A Long Beach man who used to own a medical equipment supply company pleaded guilty recently to a $2.6 million Medicare fraud scheme.
If the scam sounds familiar it should; several Orange County residents have been convicted or implicated for recruiting patients who did not need power wheelchairs, getting them prescribed anyway and fraudulently billing the government for the chairs.
In April it was Dr. Sri J. Wijegunaratne, 58, of Anaheim, who pleaded guilty in federal court for his role in a $1.5 million Medicare fraud scheme, the U.S. Attorney's office said at the time. Wijegunaratne conspired to pay and receive kickbacks from the scam and was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
Four years earlier, a Long Beach man and a Santa Ana street gang were among those implicated in a Medicare fraud scheme that stung the government for $25 million.
As was the case with Wijegunaratne and now Akinola Afolabi, 54, of Long Beach, an investigation by the feds that targeted fraudulent durable medical equipment (DME) providers produced the criminal counts.
Afolabi, the owner and president of Emmanuel Medical Supply, a DME supply company in Long Beach, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez in the Central District of California to one count of health care fraud.
The businessman admitted that from approximately June 2006 through September 2009, his company provided medically unnecessary power wheelchairs and other DME to Medicare beneficiaries and of submitting false and fraudulent claims to Medicare.
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Afolabi admitted he used "marketers" who were paid to recruit these patients and of knowing the prescriptions and medical documents filed with the government were fraudulent. Some patients never even received the supplies, but Medicare was billed as if they did.
Over the life of the scam, Afolabi, through Emmanuel, submitted more than $2.6 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare for power wheelchairs and related services, and Medicare paid Emmanuel nearly $1.5 million on those claims.
He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine at his sentencing scheduled for Nov. 25.