Home healthcare providers convicted of fraud

05/13/2014 5:41 PM

05/13/2014 5:42 PM

An Arlington physician and a registered nurse living in Grand Prairie conspired to defraud the federal government of millions of dollars for five years, a federal jury in Dallas decided Monday.

Dr. Joseph Megwa, 60, and nurse Ebolese Eghobor, 49, were convicted of one count each of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud. Megwa was also convicted of three counts of healthcare fraud and four counts of making false statements related to a healthcare benefit program.

Eghobor was acquitted of other healthcare fraud charges, a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The false statement charges against Megwa were based on his submission of false claims to Medicare for home health care visits or house calls to patients that he never actually made, prosecutors said.

The charges are related to a scheme involving PTM Healthcare Services, which was owned and operated by Ferguson Ikhile, a registered nurse. Ikhile, 56, of Irving pleaded guilty in 2013 to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, the release said.

Megwa was accused of performing unnecessary home visits and ordering unnecessary medical services for Medicare beneficiaries he had certified for home health, according to the release.

From 2006 to 2011, Megwa signed about 33,000 prescriptions for more than 2,000 Medicare beneficiaries for home health services provided by more than 230 home health agencies. In that time, he billed about $10 million to Medicare for unnecessary home visits and unnecessary medical services, according to a federal indictment.

From Jan. 1, 2006, through Dec. 31, 2010, PTM Healthcare Services submitted about $4.8 million in claims to Medicare for services to beneficiaries who had been certified by Megwa, regardless of whether patients needed the services, the indictment said.

The count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and each of the healthcare fraud counts carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Each count of making false statements relating to healthcare matters carries a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

Restitution also could be ordered. U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade is scheduled to sentence Megwa and Eghobor on Sept. 10 and Ikhile on May 28.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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