Thursday, February 6, 2014

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Three Houstonians Indicted for Health Care Fraud in Case Investigated by State and Federal Officials

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas issued the following news release on Feb. 5, 2014:

Husband, Wife and Business Associate Charged with Health Care Fraud

HOUSTON – William Owuama, 55, Marla Owuama, 46, and Florida Holiday Island, 64, all of Houston, have been charged in an eight-count indictment alleging conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud and conspiracy to violate the federal anti-kickback statute, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

The sealed indictment, returned Jan. 22, 2014, was unsealed this afternoon as all three defendants made their initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy at 2:00 p.m. At the hearing, Judge Stacy permitted Marla Owuama and Island be released upon posting bond. Upon surrendering his passport, William Owuama is also expected to be released upon posting bond.

The indictment alleges William Owuama was the owner of Wilmar Healthcare Systems, his wife Marla was a registered nurse and Island transported patients to and from the clinic. According to allegations, they not only paid patients for visiting the clinic in violation of the anti-kickback statute, but billed Medicare and Medicaid for vestibular testing that was never performed. The indictment also alleges the clinic billed Medicare and Medicaid under the provider number of a local doctor while that doctor was incarcerated on unrelated charges. From January 2006 through October 2009, Medicare and Medicaid paid Wilmar more than $4 million based on the alleged fraudulent claims.

If convicted, all three defendants face up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiring to commit healthcare fraud and violating the anti-kickback statute. The Owuamas also face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the substantive healthcare fraud charges.

The investigation leading to the charges in this case was conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General and the Texas Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Special Assistant United States Attorney (SAUSA) Adrienne Frazior and AUSAs Andrew Leuchtmann and John Pearson are prosecuting the case. 

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.

A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.