June 10, 2013 — Each year, the U.S. Department of Justice relies on the federal False Claims Act to take back millions of tax dollars stolen through Medicare fraud. The qui tam language of the False Claims Act authorizes health care workers who find out about Medicare billing violations to file a lawsuit against the wrongdoers and keep a percentage of any monies collected. Health care workers, such as employees in medical supply businesses, doctors’ offices and hospitals, are frequently the best situated to notice misconduct when it occurs and notify the government.
Guilty Verdict in Medicaid Fraud Scam Involving Durable Medical Equipment
A federal jury has found Sri J. Wijegunaratne, an Anaheim, California physician, guilty for his role in a $1.5 million Medicare fraud scheme. The jury also found two others guilty in connection with the durable medical equipment (DME) scam: Godwin Onyeabor, of Ontario, California and Heidi Morishita, of Valencia, California.
From January 2007 to February 2012, Onyeabor, with Fendih Medical Supply Inc. in San Bernardino, paid kickbacks to Wijegunaratne and Morishita to write phony prescriptions for power wheelchairs and other DME for Medicare patients who did not need the DME and often never used it. The Medicare beneficiaries were encouraged to visit medical clinics taking part in the scam with offers of free vitamins and juice. Once there, the patients were signed up for power wheelchairs they didn’t need or want. Onyeabor then filed false claims with Medicare for the unnecessary medical equipment.
According to the Justice Department, the DME fraud scheme resulted in the submission of about $1.5 million in false claims to Medicare. The co-conspirators were paid nearly $1 million on the claims.
Insider Employees Tip Off Government in False Claims Act Cases
False Claims Act violations involving durable medical equipment, like this one, often come to light when concerned insiders notify the government. Whistleblowers with the courage to collaborate with the Department of Justice deserve to understand their rights before stepping forward. With Medicare fraud lawyers across the country, Waters & Kraus provides informants with the experienced legal counsel they need. Contact us by email or call our qui tam lawyers at 855.784.0268 to discuss our False Claims Act practice.