Two Dallas doctors and three nurses were sentenced yesterday in an $11.3 million Medicare fraud scheme involving false and fraudulent claims for home health services.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox of the Northern District of Texas, Special Agent in Charge C.J. Porter of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Dallas Region, Special Agent in Charge Eric Jackson of the FBI’s Dallas Field Office, and Director of Law Enforcement David Maxwell of the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), made the announcement
Patience Okoroji, 60, of Dallas County, Texas, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas to serve 120 months in prison for her role in the fraudulent scheme as a part-owner of Timely Home Health Services Inc. (Timely) and a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN). Kelly Robinett, M.D., 69, of Denton County, Texas, who was a former part-owner and supervising physician at Boomer House Calls (Boomer) of Frisco, Texas, was sentenced to serve 42 months in prison; Joy Ogwuegbu, 42, of Collin County, Texas, the former Director of Nursing at Timely, was sentenced to serve 42 months in prison and Kingsley Nwanguma, 48, of Dallas County, an LVN at Timely, was sentenced to serve 42 months in prison. Angel Claudio, M.D., 61, of Hidalgo County was sentenced to serve six months in prison.
On June 22, following a five-day trial before Judge O’Connor, Robinett and Nwanguma were each convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. In addition, Robinett and Nwanguma were each convicted of three counts of health care fraud, and Ogwuegbu was convicted of four counts of health care fraud. Claudio; Okoroji; Usani Ewah, 60, of Dallas County, a part-owner of Timely and a registered nurse (RN); and Shawn Chamberlain, 49, of Collin County, a part-owner of Boomer and a physician’s assistant, all pleaded guilty. Chamberlain and Ewah are awaiting sentencing.
According to evidence presented at trial, from 2007 through 2015, Okoroji, Ewah, Nwanguma, Ogwuegbu, Claudio, Robinett, and Chamberlain engaged in a scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting and causing the submission of false and fraudulent claims to Medicare, through Timely, a home health agency, and Boomer, a physician house call company. The evidence presented at trial showed that Robinett, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, certified Medicare beneficiaries—whom he had never seen and did not care to see—for medically unnecessary home health services that were often not provided. The evidence further established that Ogwuegbu, a registered nurse, falsified nursing assessments and Nwanguma, a licensed vocational nurse, falsified nursing notes, to make it appear as if Medicare beneficiaries were qualified for and were provided skilled nursing services.
Evidence at trial demonstrated that Timely billed Medicare for over $11.3 million for home health services purportedly provided to Timely’s patients, some of which was attributable to certifications Robinett signed. Court documents also show that Robinett’s company, Boomer, billed Medicare over $1.6 million for medically unnecessary home health certifications and services and physician’s home visits.
This case was investigated by the HHS-OIG, FBI, and MFCU. Assistant Deputy Chief Adrienne Frazior and Trial Attorneys Aleza Remis and Christina Liu of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in 12 cities across the country, has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion.
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