Monday, July 2, 2012

Nigerian extradited to America over $45 million health care fraud

Godwin Chiedo Nzeocha, 45, a naturalized United States citizen originally from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has been returned to the United States to stand trial in a $45 million health care fraud case, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced on Thursday.

Nzeocha was charged October 19, 2009 with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, 39 counts of health care fraud, three counts of mail fraud, and three counts of money laundering in relation to his role in the City Nursing Services of Texas Inc. health care fraud conspiracy.

United States security agents were unable to arrest Nzeocha after he was charged in 2009 but was later arrested in Nigeria and extradicted back to Houston on Wednesday 27th June, 2012.

The accused person has since Wednesday made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate George C. Hanks, Jr., where the United States requested that he should be remanded in federal custody pending further criminal proceedings.

According to the indictment, Nzeocha signed patient file documents as the provider of physical therapy services he was not qualified to provide and, according to evidence provided during trial of his alleged co-conspirators, which were not, in fact, provided to Medicare beneficiaries.

The indictment also alleges Nzeocha handed out cash payments to recruiters who brought Medicare beneficiaries to City Nursing and to Medicare beneficiaries in return for signatures on blank patient treatment forms.

To date, five people have been convicted in this massive health care fraud conspiracy, including City Nursing's owner, Umawa Oke Imo, who is now serving 27 years in prison.

Nzeocha faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and money laundering charges, upon conviction. A conviction for mail fraud carries an additional maximum punishment of up to 20 years in prison.

This case has been investigated by the FBI, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, and the Texas Attorney General's Office-Medicare Fraud Control Unit. Special thanks is extended to the Nigerian government and the Office of International Affairs in the Justice Department's Criminal Division, who provided assistance. Assistant United States Attorney Julie Redlinger is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.


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