Los Angeles, California - A Nigerian man pleaded guilty Wednesday for his role in a durable medical equipment (DME) scheme that fraudulently billed more than $8 million dollars to Medicare for DME that was not medically necessary.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna of the Central District of California, Special Agent in Charge Christian J. Schrank of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Region, Assistant Director in Charge Paul D. Delacourt of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division and Acting Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Korner of the IRS Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.
Ayodeji Temitayo Fatunmbi, 47, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering before U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder of the Central District of California. Fatunmbi was extradited from Nigeria to the Central District of California in October of 2018 on charges contained in a May 2013 indictment. Sentencing has been scheduled for Aug. 19, 2019 before Judge Snyder.
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, which the Medicare beneficiaries did not need. Fatunmbi and co-conspirators caused Lutemi Medical Supply (Lutemi), a DME supply company that he co-ran, to submit approximately $8.3 million in claims to Medicare, which resulted in the company being paid over $3.5 million. 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 this scheme, Fatunmbi and a co-conspirator wrote checks from Lutemi’s bank account to Lutemi employees and others, and Fatunmbi instructed that those monies be returned to him to pay the illegal cash kickbacks to the patient recruiters and doctors, he admitted. Fatummbi admittedly directed others at Lutemi to engage in these tranactions to conceal the nature and source of the proceeds of the health care fraud conspiracy. As part of his plea agreement, Fatunmbi agreed to pay restitution to Medicare in the amount of $1,076,893.
Fatunmbi was charged along with Olufunke Ibiyemi Fadojutimi, 47, of Carson, California, and Maritza Elizabeth Velasquez, 44, of Las Vegas, Nevada. 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 sentenced to four years in prison and restitution in the amount of $4,372,466. In her sentencing, Fadojutimi was held responsible for the full amount of over $8 million in intended losses caused by the fraud at Lutemi.
This case was investigated by the the FBI, the IRS and the Los Angeles Region of HHS-OIG. Trial Attorneys Claire Yan, Emily Culbertson and Justin Givens of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,300 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $7 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.