A Fort Worth doctor involved in a scheme that sent the federal government more than $50 million in fraudulent billings was sentenced to 16 years and eight months in prison on Wednesday.
Noble U. Ezukanma, 57, was taken into custody by federal officials in March after being convicted at the end of a five-day trial of one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and six counts of healthcare fraud. Ezukanma was also ordered to pay more than $34 million in restitution, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office.
“This is the kind of flagrant fraud that drives up healthcare costs to consumers everywhere,” U.S. Attorney John Parker said in the release.
Co-defendants Oliva A. Padilla, 57, and Ben P. Gaines, 55, have pleaded guilty to their role in the scheme and are awaiting sentencing.
Co-defendants Myrna S. Parcon, 62, got a 10-year sentence and was ordered to pay more than $51 million in restitution; Ransome N. Etindi, 57, got a two-year, six-months sentence and was ordered to pay more than $18 million in restitution; and Lita S. Dejesus, 70, received a two-year sentence and was ordered to pay more than $4 million in restitution.
Ezukanma and his co-defendants played various roles in at least three healthcare companies but all worked in concert, according to the release.
Bills that were presented to Medicare indicated that patients received office visits of 90 minutes or more when those visits only took 15 to 20 minutes and often indicated that patients received the most comprehensive exams when the patients received less complex exams, according to the release.
Medicare was also billed for home health services for patients who did not need them, the release said. It was estimated that Medicare paid more than $40 million for fraudulent home health services, the release said.