Tuesday, November 5, 2013
The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas issued the following news release on Nov. 4, 2013:
DALLAS — Comfort Gates, 48, was sentenced this afternoon, by U.S District Judge David C. Godbey, to 72 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $830,000 in restitution following her conviction at trial in April 2013 on charges stemming from her involvement in the operation of Euless Healthcare Corporation (EHC) and Medic Healthcare Incorporated (Medic).
Gates is one six defendants convicted in the conspiracy. Judge Godbey ordered that Gates, a current resident of Houston, surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on January 13, 2014. Today’s announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas. Gates, an employee of Medic, and coconspirator Godwin Umotong, 58, an employee of EHC and Medic, were each convicted at trial on one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Gates was also convicted on two counts of health care fraud and Umotong was also convicted on five counts of health care fraud.
Umotong is scheduled to be sentenced on December 2, 2013; he faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the counts of conviction. He could also be ordered to pay restitution.
Other defendants in the case who have been convicted and sentenced are listed below. Each was also ordered to pay restitution of amounts ranging from approximately $195,000 to $1.4 million. Ovsanna Agopian, 58, Houston, 120 months in federal prison Boghos Babadjanian, 55, of Sherman Oaks, Calif., probation Leslie Omagbemi, 56, of Dallas, 30 months in federal prison Munda Massaquoi, 69, of Houston, 37 months in federal prison
ECH was located on West Bedford Euless Road in Hurst Texas, and Medic, which operated from October 2009 to May 2011, was located on Bonhomme Road in Houston. Agopian, 58, was the operator of both EHC and Medic.
According to documents filed in the case and evidence presented at trial, Agopian, Umotong, Omagbemi, Massaquoi and Gates conspired together to submit, or cause to be submitted, fraudulent claims to Medicare for diagnostic tests and office visits. Agopian recruited unlicensed doctors to work for EHC and Medic by telling them that they would treat beneficiaries in the beneficiaries’ homes. Medicare does not pay for services performed by unlicensed persons. Nevertheless, these recruits went to beneficiaries’ homes and purported to conduct medical examinations, including ordering diagnostic tests. In total, more than $2.7 million was fraudulently billed, and of that amount, Medicare paid more than $1.3 million.
The case was investigated by the Dallas Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) Strike Force, which includes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), the FBI and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Elliott prosecuted.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers. To learn more about the HEAT Strike Force, go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.