AUSTIN – A joint investigation by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Texas attorney general’s office and others helped federal prosecutors obtain a jury conviction of two home health owners and two employees who ran a scheme to steal over $3.7 million from Medicare and Medicaid.
Following a six-day trial, Celestine “Tony” Okwilagwe, Tutu Kudiaratu Etti, Loveth Isidaehomen and Paul Emordi were each convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Okwilagwe and Etti were found guilty on two counts of false statements in connection with a health care benefit program.
According to the investigation, Okwilagwe and Emordi owned and operated Elder Care, a Garland-based Medicare and Medicaid provider, even though both had been previously barred from participating in federal health care benefit programs. Etti, the administrator of Elder Care, and Isidaehomen, Okwilagwe’s wife, signed various false documents to conceal the identity of the owners. The four defendants were also accused of submitting false and fraudulent bills to Medicare for unnecessary services.
Sentencing before U.S. District Court Judge Jane Boyle of the Northern District of Texas, who presided over the trial, has not yet been scheduled.
“Health care fraud diverts critical resources away from citizens who truly need those services,” said Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Division Chief Stormy Kelly. “The Texas attorney general’s office will continue to aggressively investigate these cases and work with our state and federal partners to ensure those who commit Medicaid and Medicare fraud are prosecuted.”
Earlier this year, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit received the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General award of excellence for fighting fraud, waste and abuse. During fiscal year 2017, the unit obtained 108 indictments, 137 convictions and led the nation in recovering more than $534 million.