Two sentenced to prison in Texas for Medicare fraud

An Arlington doctor and Grand Prairie nurse were sentenced to prison Wednesday for their plan to defraud the government of millions of dollars in unnecessary Medicare expenses, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office.

Dr. Joseph Megwa, 60, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for making unnecessary home visits and ordering unnecessary medical services for Medicare beneficiaries from 2006 to 2011, according to the news release and Star-Telegram archives.

Registered nurse Ebolose Eghobor, 49, of Grand Prairie, was sentenced to four years in federal prison for preparing fraudulent medical records that made it seem as if Medicare beneficiaries needed home health services, according to the news release.

The two were sentenced Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Dallas. They were arrested in October 2012 during an investigation after which 91 doctors and nurses were charged with Medicare fraud schemes in seven cities, The Associated Press reported in 2012.

Megwa and Eghobor were convicted in May 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, the Star-Telegram reported in May.

He submitted “false claims to Medicare for home visits or house calls to patients that he never actually made,” according to the news release.

During 2006 and 2011, Megwa had billed about $10 million to Medicare for unnecessary visits and services through his Raphem Medical Practice in Arlington, according to Star-Telegram archives.

The convictions are related to a scheme involving PTM Healthcare Services Inc., which was owned and operated by registered nurse Ferguson Ikhile, 56, of Irving, who is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 14.

From about 2006 to 2011, PTM recruited Medicare beneficiaries and “Ikhile, Eghobor and others prepared fraudulent medical records that made it appear that the beneficiaries needed home health services.”

“In exchange for cash payments, Megwa, who owned and operated Raphem Medical Practice P.A., falsely certified that the beneficiaries needed home health services and that the services otherwise qualified for payment under Medicare,” the relase states.

The investigation was a part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a joint effort of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas and the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

— Monica S. Nagy