Many cases of health care fraud are brought to light by employees or even patients who are pressured to participate in the scheme themselves. The federal False Claims Act encourages people to come forward by allowing whistleblowers to share in the government’s recovery under the qui tam provisions of the act. These brave individuals play a crucial role in saving taxpayers money and bringing wrongdoers to justice.
Sometimes, however, in addition to pursuing civil allegations against wrongdoers, the government also brings criminal charges against the purveyors of health care fraud. In July, for example, the former co-owners of a durable medical equipment (DME) company in Houston were each sentenced to serve 87 months in prison for taking part in a $1.18 million Medicare scam.
Princewill Njoku, 53, and Clifford Ubani, 54 were both recently sentenced in Houston by U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller in the Southern District of Texas. After pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, the men were both given three years of supervised release and they must pay $566,451 in restitution.
The Department of Justice alleged that Family, a DME company in Houston, was supposed to provide Medicare beneficiaries with medical equipment. In reality, however, Ubani paid recruiters to find Medicare beneficiaries to be used as pawns by Family in a scheme to file Medicare claims for unnecessary medical orthotic braces that were called “ortho kits” or “arthritis kits.” Family and its co-conspirators would simply falsify documents to support the fraudulent submissions for reimbursement to Medicare.
Njoku and Ubani are not the first to be sentenced in regard to this health care fraud scheme. In February 2012, Michelle Turner was convicted after a one-week jury trial. Turner is still awaiting sentencing.
Nor is this the first time that Ubani and Njoku have been charged with health care fraud. In June 2011, the men were each sentenced with 108 months in prison in a different $5.2 million health care fraud scheme. The men will serve their sentences for the two crimes concurrently.
Waters & Kraus is a national firm with highly skilled lawyers practicing qui tam litigation in four offices, including Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Baltimore. Our attorneys have decades of experience successfully representing whistleblowers in a variety of fraud cases. Contact us or call our attorneys at 800.226.9880 to learn more about our practice and how we can assist.