Wednesday, December 22, 2010

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Medicaid Fraud Investigators Recover Gold Coins Valued at $250,000

SAN ANTONIO – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) and a U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General agent successfully recovered $250,000 worth of gold coins this week for the taxpayer-funded Texas Medicaid program. Authorities in Delaware seized the coins from a local depository account on Monday and held them until the Texas MFCU officer and HHS agent arrived last night to return the coins to Texas.

According to investigators, Texas defendant Marcellius Jhekwuoba Anunobi is believed to have used fraudulent proceeds – which were accumulated while he improperly overbilled the Texas Medicaid program – to purchase the coins. Anunobi, president and pharmacist in charge of Advanced Doctor’s Prescribed Pharmacy, was convicted of billing the Texas Vendor Drug Program for prescriptions that were never actually filled. State investigators estimated that Anunobi’s fraudulent scheme cost the Texas Medicaid program more than $2 million. Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s San Antonio office took custody of the coins Tuesday night.

Photos of Coins/Evidence (Courtesy: FBI)

“This week’s seizure of a quarter million dollars worth of gold coins reflects our commitment to recovering ill-gotten profits from criminals who defraud Texas taxpayers,” Attorney General Abbott said. “It also demonstrates a successful, cooperative and multi-jurisdictional law enforcement effort. We are grateful to Special Agent in Charge Cory Nelson and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s San Antonio office, the Delaware Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed’s Office for their assistance with this case.”

The Bexar County District Attorney's Office, with assistance from the Texas MFCU, tried and convicted Anunobi on charges of Medicaid fraud, theft and money laundering. On Sept. 3, Anunobi was sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay $2.2 million in restitution.

During its investigation, the Texas MFCU identified assets Anunobi allegedly purchased with the unlawful proceeds. MFCU investigators located 101 gold coins this week in a Wilmington, Del. depository account. The account belonged to Anunobi’s wife, Endaline. Based upon information provided by the Texas MFCU, the Delaware MFCU executed a search warrant and seized the coin cache.

This week’s asset seizure stemmed from a joint investigative effort by the Texas MFCU, the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation in San Antonio, and the Delaware MFCU. The Bexar County District Attorney’s Office and the Texas MFCU prosecuted the case.