prison

A 47-year-old Nigerian man, Ayodeji Fatunmbi, has been sentenced to 46 months in an American prison for his role in a durable medical equipment scheme, in which more than $8m was fraudulently billed to the United States Government Medicare programme.

The US Department of Justice said this in a joint statement by Assistant Attorney-General Brian Benczkowski of the department’s Criminal Division; US Attorney Nicola Hanna of the Central District of California; Special Agent in Charge Timothy DeFrancesca of the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s Los Angeles Regional Office; Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division, Paul Delacourt; and Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation, Los Angeles Field Office, Ryan Korner.

Fatunmbi was extradited from Nigeria to the Central District of California in October 2018 on charges contained in a May 2013 indictment.

US District Judge of the Central District of California, Christina Snyder, sentenced him to 46 months in prison and ordered him to pay $1,076,893.15 in restitution.

Fatunmbi had pleaded guilty on May 8 to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

He was charged along with Olufunke Fadojutimi, 47, of Carson, California; and Maritza Elizabeth Velasquez, 44, of Las Vegas, Nevada.

The statement reads, “As part of his guilty plea, Fatunmbi admitted that he and others paid cash kickbacks to patient recruiters and physicians for fraudulent prescriptions for DME such as power wheelchairs, of which the Medicare beneficiaries did not have a legitimate medical need.

“Fatunmbi and co-conspirators caused Lutemi Medical Supply, a DME supply company that he co-ran, to submit approximately $8.3m in claims to Medicare, which resulted in the company being paid over $3.5m.

“Fatunmbi further admitted that he was responsible for $2,090,434 in false and fraudulent claims for medically unnecessary DME and that as a result of his conduct, Medicare paid Lutemi a total of $1,076,893.”

In furtherance of the alleged scheme, Fatunmbi and a co-conspirator were said to have written cheques from Lutemi’s bank account to Lutemi employees and others, and Fatunmbi reportedly admitted that he instructed that those monies be returned to him to pay the illegal cash kickbacks to the patient recruiters and doctors.

“Fatummbi admittedly directed others at Lutemi to engage in these transactions to conceal the nature and source of the proceeds of the health care fraud conspiracy.

“Velasquez pleaded guilty on July 24, 2013, to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and was sentenced to 15 months in prison and restitution in the amount of $3,411,428.

“Fadojutimi was found guilty after a jury trial on July 31, 2014, of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, seven counts of health care fraud and one count of money laundering, and was sentenced to four years in prison and restitution in the amount of $4,372,466.”

The sentencing came days before the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced an unprecedented indictment of 78 Nigerians for email fraud worth about $3bn.

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