Four people were accused in Baton Rouge federal court Thursday of participating in criminal conspiracies that resulted in fraudulent claims totaling $2.4 million against Medicare.
In Washington, D.C., federal officials announced 87 other people were charged in Miami, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Chicago and Brooklyn for allegedly filing false claims that totaled another $426.8 million against the tax-funded health insurer.
“Such activities not only siphon precious taxpayer resources, drive up health care costs, and jeopardize the strength of the Medicare program — they also disproportionately victimize the most vulnerable members of society, including elderly, disabled and impoverished Americans,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a written statement.
“Today’s arrests put criminals on notice that we are cracking down hard on people who want to steal from Medicare,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
All of the indictments resulted from Medicare Fraud Strike Force investigations in the seven cities.
Agents of the FBI and HHS Office of Inspector General collaborated on the probes.
In one of the Baton Rouge cases, Imeh U. Ebere and Sheila R. Hives are accused of using Golden Medical Equipment & Supply Inc. to file $807,000 in false Medicare claims for tube-feeding supplies and equipment.
Records of the Louisiana Secretary of State list Ebere as the agent and director of Golden Medical with offices in the 2700 block of Wooddale Boulevard.
The indictment obtained by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shubhra Shivpuri lists both Ebere and Hives as Baton Rouge residents. Hives is listed as a sales representative, secretary and delivery employee for Golden Medical.
Ebere faces one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and nine charges of health care fraud.
Hives is accused of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and five counts of health care fraud.
In a separate indictment in Baton Rouge federal court, Michael Ogudo and Sharon Murphy are accused of using Trust Medical Supply Co. and Trust Medical Supply LLC to file false claims for Medicare reimbursement on sales of power wheelchairs and tube-feeding nutrients, supplies and equipment.
The indictment obtained by Justice Department prosecutors Abigail B. Taylor and Arunabha Bhoumik alleges those false claims totaled more than $1.6 million.
Neither Baton Rouge indictment specifies how much money Medicare actually paid on the alleged false claims.
A 2008 filing with the Louisiana Secretary of State shows Murphy registered Trust Medical Supply Co. to do business in Louisiana. At the time, Murphy showed her residence was in Katy, Texas.
In 2009, Murphy registered Trust Medical Supply LLC as a firm in East Carroll Parish. She listed an address in Lake Providence and reported that she and Ogudo were owners of the firm.
The indictment alleges that Ogudo and Murphy falsified records to make it appear that a physician had prescribed a power scooter and an unspecified number of power wheelchairs.
In some cases, the indictment alleges, Medicare beneficiaries never received the equipment or supplies for which the insurer was billed.
Both Ogudo and Murphy are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Murphy also faces five counts of health care fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft. Ogudo also faces two counts of health care fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft.