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January 20, 11

NEWS / Two Owners of Houston Health Care Company Plead Guilty to Alleged $5.2 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme


WASHINGTON -- Two owners of a Houston health care company pleaded guilty today in connection with an alleged $5.2 million Medicare fraud scheme, announced the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS).



Clifford Ubani, 52, and Princewill Njoku, 51, each pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Atlas in Houston to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay kickbacks and 16 counts of payment of kickbacks to Medicare beneficiary recruiters.



According to court documents, Ubani and Njoku were owners and operators of Family Healthcare Group (Family Group), a home health care company. Family Group purported to provide skilled nursing to Medicare beneficiaries. According to court documents, Ubani and Njoku hired co-conspirators to recruit Medicare beneficiaries for the purpose of filing claims with Medicare for skilled nursing that was medically unnecessary and/or not provided. Ubani and Njoku admitted that they paid kickbacks to the recruiters for their referrals.



Ubani and Njoku previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud related to their ownership of another Houston health care company, Family Healthcare Services (Family Services). Family Services submitted approximately $1.1 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare for the costs of durable medical equipment.



At sentencing, scheduled for July 19, 2011, Ubani and Njoku each face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each health care fraud conspiracy count, five years in prison for each kickback conspiracy count and five years in prison for each kickback count.



Todayís guilty pleas were announced by Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer; U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno of the Southern District of Texas; Special Agent-in-Charge Richard C. Powers of the FBIís Houston Field Office; Special Agent-in-Charge Mike Fields of the Dallas Regional Office of HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations; and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.



This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Charles D. Reed and Laura Cordova, and Assistant Chief Sam S. Sheldon of the Criminal Divisionís Fraud Section. The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the U.S. Attorneyís Office for the Southern District of Texas and the Criminal Divisionís Fraud Section.



Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in seven districts have obtained indictments of more than 850 individuals who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $2.1 billion. In addition, HHSís Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.



To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov .

http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/January/11-crm-080.html

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