Tuesday, August 7, 2012
HOUSTON Tony Nnonso Obi, 56, a naturalized U.S. citizen from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has entered a plea of guilty for his role in a massive health care fraud conspiracy that billed the Medicare and Medicaid programs for more than $45 million, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.
Obi was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of money laundering.
As part of his plea, Obi admitted to entering into an agreement with the owner of City Nursing, Umawa Imo, to receive 15% of the money City Nursing obtained from Medicare for services billed on individuals referred to City Nursing by Obi, or on Obi’s behalf. Imo, who is currently serving more than 27 years in federal prison for his role in the conspiracy, paid Obi $1,051,425.28. At least three of the beneficiaries taken to City Nursing by Obi were individuals living in Obi’s assisted living facility. Obi also admitted to paying beneficiaries and recruiters and handling office matters when Imo was out of the office.
Obi faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count. U.S. District Judge Kennth Hoyt, who accepted the plea today, has set sentencing for Nov. 5, 2012. He has been in custody since his April 3, 2012, arrest where he will remain pending that sentencing hearing.
Six others have also been convicted in relation to this scheme. The investigation into City Nursing was the result of a joint investigation by agents of the FBI, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General and the Texas Attorney General's Medicare Fraud Control Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Julie Redlinger is prosecuting the case.