Houston Home Care Nurse Sentenced to 97 Months in Prison for Role in $5.2 Million Fraud Scheme

A Houston-area home care nurse was sentenced today for her participation in a $5.2 million Medicare home health fraud scheme, announced the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS).

Ezinne Ubani, the former director of nursing at Family Healthcare Group, a Houston home health agency, was sentenced to 97 months in prison, followed by three years supervised release. Ubani was ordered to pay $2.5 million in restitution jointly and severally with her codefendants. Ubani was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and two counts of making false statements following a May 2011 trial.

According to the evidence presented at trial and in court documents, Family Healthcare Group purported to provide skilled nursing to Medicare beneficiaries. Family Healthcare Group paid co-conspirators to recruit Medicare beneficiaries for the purpose of filing claims with Medicare for skilled nursing that was medically unnecessary and/or not provided. The evidence showed that Ezinne Ubani falsified documents to support the fraudulent payments. After the Medicare beneficiaries were recruited, other co-conspirators fraudulently signed plans of care stating that the beneficiaries needed home health care when in fact they knew the beneficiaries were not home-bound and not in need of skilled nursing.

Ubani is the seventh defendant sentenced in connection with this scheme. Three other defendants, Clifford Ubani, Princewill Njoku and Cynthia Garza Williams, await sentencing in Texas.

The case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG, Texas OAG-MFCU and the Federal Railroad Retirement Board-Office of Inspector General. The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Fraud Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.

Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,330 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $4 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

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