Thursday, December 20, 2007

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Houston Area Man Pleads Guilty to Theft in Medical Supply Billing Scheme

HOUSTON – Following a lengthy investigation by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the former owner of a Houston-area medical equipment and supply company pleaded guilty to first-degree felony theft.

Samuel E. Edem of Sugar Land owned the now-defunct Semeds Medical Equipment. He was ordered by the Harris County 179th District Court to repay more than $80,000 he stole from the Texas Medicaid program. Edem, 53, who was sentenced to 10 years probation and 240 hours of community service, billed Medicaid for undelivered medical supplies.

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Samuel Edem

“Under this guilty plea, the defendant admits to stealing more than $80,000 from the taxpayer-funded Medicaid program,” said Attorney General Abbott. “These resources are supposed to provide health care to the indigent, not enrich criminals. Taxpayers can rest assured that we will continue investigating waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicaid system.”

Attorney General Abbott added, “We are grateful to Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal Jr. for his assistance with this case and his commitment to Medicaid fraud prosecutions.”

The case against Edem was uncovered during a larger probe by state and federal authorities, who are investigating a large network of durable medical equipment providers for billing Medicaid and Medicare for adult diapers, wheelchairs and other medical supplies that were never delivered. In Edem’s case, he primarily billed Medicaid for incontinence supplies, such as adult diapers, that he never delivered.

Harris County Assistant District Attorney Joni Vollman prosecuted the case.

In 2006 alone, Texas spent more than $17 billion to fund its portion of the Medicaid program. To save taxpayer dollars and protect Texas seniors, Attorney General Abbott has dramatically expanded the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

The unit has established field offices in Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, San Antonio and Tyler through authorization and funding from the 78th Legislature. It works with federal, state and local agencies across the state to identify and prosecute those who defraud the Medicaid program.

To obtain more information about the Attorney General’s efforts to fight Medicaid fraud, access the agency’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.