Thursday, December 15, 2005
Attorney General Abbott Wins Heavy Sentence Against Houston Counselor Convicted Of Medicaid FraudHOUSTON - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) investigation of a fraudulent depression counseling operation in Houston has resulted in a guilty plea and 10-year prison sentence against its owner, Comfort O. Okoronkwo, 47.
She was charged with first-degree felony theft for billing Medicaid $200,000 for counseling services reported between 2000 and 2004 that she never provided at her former center on Harwin Drive known as Harmony Counseling. She pleaded guilty in September and was sentenced in 337th District Court. She must make $185,000 in restitution to the state.
“I am pleased this criminal will be sent to prison where she belongs so she will no longer be able to bilk the Texas Medicaid program and money meant to help needy children and families,” said Attorney General Abbott. “The sentence is well deserved for the damage she has done.”
In May 2004, Medicaid Fraud officers seized $52,000 in two bank accounts belonging to Okoronkwo. Investigators determined she had been diagnosing the majority of her patients with “recurrent depressive psychosis,” regardless of their age or condition. Psychiatric consultants interviewed by Medicaid Fraud officers said that, because she billed for every child in a family, charging for a complete “family sessions” without interviewing many children, she illegally enhanced her Medicaid reimbursements many times over.
Okoronkwo was indicted by a grand jury and arrested by a MFCU investigator and Houston police in March 2005 at her attorney’s office. She pleaded guilty to the felony charges of aggregate theft.
Harris County Assistant District Attorneys Bill Moore and Leonard Blizzard prosecuted Okoronkwo.
To obtain more information about the Attorney General’s efforts to fight Medicaid fraud, access the agency’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.