An Anaheim physician was recently convicted in federal court for his role in a $1.5 million Medicare fraud scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
Dr. Sri J. Wijegunaratne, 58, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, another count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and six substantive counts of health care fraud.
Scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 9, Wijegunaratne faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.
That's the same sentencing date and punishment facing Wijegunaratne's co-conspirators: Ontario's Godwin Onyeabor, 49, an officer at Fendih Medical Supply Inc. in San Bernardino, and Heidi Morishita, 48, of Valencia, who brought prescriptions to Onyeabor, who was also convicted last week of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and 11 substantive counts of health care fraud.
Fendih specialized in what is known as durable medical equipment (DME) like power wheelchairs. Between January 2007 and February 2012, Wijegunaratne wrote prescriptions for DME his patients did not need and often did not use, with Morishta taking the scripts to Onyebor to be fulfilled. Medicare was then billed for the costs.
"At trial, several Medicare beneficiaries testified that they were lured to medical clinics with the promise of free items such as vitamins and juice, only to receive power wheelchairs that they did not need and did not want," reads the Justice Department statement. "The beneficiaries further testified that their attempts to reject delivery of the power wheelchairs from Onyeabor's supply company were unsuccessful.
Onyeabor, Wijegunaratne and others submitted and caused the submission of approximately $1.5 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare, and received almost $1 million on those claims, according to federal prosecutors. The doctor received kickbacks for generating fresh patients for false billings.