In Houston, Texas, a Nigerian man who ran away to hide in Nigeria, has been convicted in multi-million dollar City Nursing health care fraud Scheme. Godwin Chiedo Nzeocha, 45, is a naturalized United States citizen who was originally from Nigeria. He was dragged before a U.S District Court in Texas, by the Department of Justice on October 19, 2009 for conspiracy to commit health care fraud, money laundering and mail fraud.Nzeocha committed a health care insurance offense by bringing in patients who come to sign blank forms that he has treated them and sending it to Medicare and Medicaid Services to request for claims which he never remitted, about $30 million. He entered a plea and agreed to forfeit $1,098,320 to the U.S.
In November of 2009, Nzeocha fled to Nigeria, in order to avoid being sentenced.
But on June 5, 2011, Nzeocha was in his newly built mansion at the outskirts of Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria, when he was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, following a petition from the Legal Attaché to the U.S Consular Office, Lagos, on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI.
Justice James Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, then granted the request of the Attorney General of the Federation that Godwin Chiedo Nzeocha be extradited to the U.S to face criminal charges over the alleged Health Care Benefit Fund fraud involving $30 million.
Between Dec. 3, 2007, and June 26, 2009, when Nzeocha worked at City Nursing, the company billed Medicare and Medicaid for approximately $35,819,508 worth of physical therapy services that were not provided and received approximately $26,233,122 as payment for those services from Medicare and Medicaid.
Nzeocha faces a possible punishment of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of his convictions. He will remain in custody pending his sentencing, set for Jan. 18, 2013.
According to the documents in support of his plea, Nzeocha left the United States to avoid arrest not long after receiving a telephone call from a co-conspirator the day Umawa Imo, owner of City Nursing Services of Texas Inc., was arrested. Nzeocha made his initial appearance June 27, 2012, after being extradited back to the United States from Nigeria.
Nzeocha is the 8th person to be convicted in relation to the City Nursing health care fraud scheme, including Imo, who was sentenced to 327 months in federal prison.
Nzeocha admitted he had an agreement with Imo to sign his name on City Nursing patient documents as the provider of physical therapy services that he knew he was not qualified nor did provide to Medicare beneficiaries. The documents included blank treatment data forms, progress notes and daily physical therapy records. Nzeocha further admitted to knowing Imo was buying Medicare beneficiary information from recruiters and paying Medicare beneficiaries cash in order to bill for physical therapy services that were not provided. Nzeocha received approximately $1,098,320 from City Nursing.
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. Assistant United States Attorney Julie Redlinger is prosecuting the case.