Thursday, November 15, 2012

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Houston-area Businessman Convicted of Health Care Fraud in Case Investigated by State and Federal Officials

The following news release was issued by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas on Nov. 14, 2012:

DME Owner Convicted of Health Care Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft

HOUSTON Abdul Waheed Alex Shittu, 54, a naturalized United States citizen from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Shittu, the owner of S & S Medical Supply Etc. located in Stafford, admitted at his re-arraignment today that he began purchasing physician orders for durable medical equipment (DME), including wrist, back, foot, ankle, knee, elbow and shoulder braces as well as wheelchairs around Dec. 1, 2008. Shittu further acknowledged he had at least five recruiters working for him whom he paid $200 - $300 for physician orders which often contained forged physician signatures. The orders were for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who had not been seen or treated by the identified physicians.

Shittu further admitted he billed Medicare and Medicaid for delivery of all the DME on the purchased orders, even though he did not deliver all the DME and he delivered DME to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries he knew did not want or need the supplies. Shittu also gave his billing agent the incorrect coding information so he would receive more money from Medicare and Medicaid for each DME claim. Between Dec. 1, 2008, and Sept. 30, 2009, Shittu submitted approximately $1,154,025 in fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid and received $597,865.19 for those claims.

Shittu faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine as well as an additional two-year-term of imprisonment for aggravated identity theft which must be served consecutively to any other term imposed. He has been permitted to remain on bond pending his sentencing, set for Jan. 20, 2013.

The investigation into Shittu was the result of a joint investigation conducted by agents from the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Julie Redlinger prosecuted the case.