On October 24th, 2013

DOJ Special Agents At Work: Former Pastor Sentenced in $11 million Wheelchair Scheme

ASA-DOJOur California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) members who are special agents in the California Department of Justice (DOJ) Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse helped crack a $11 million Medicare Fraud case that resulted in the arrests of seven people, one of whom was sentenced on October 17, 2013.

"This is a case in which DOJ special agents  worked with federal agencies to see that justice is served," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona.  "Because of their thorough investigation, three defendants in this case have been sentenced, and three are awaiting sentencing."

On October 17 , a former  pastor and owner of a Los Angeles-area medical supply company,  Charles Agbu, 58, of Carson, was sentenced for his role in a power wheelchair fraud scheme that defrauded Medicare of more than $11 million.  Agbu was sentenced to 87 months in prison and was ordered to pay $5,788,725 in restitution to Medicare.

In December 2012, Agbu pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering charges based on his role as owner and operator of Bonfee Inc., a fraudulent durable medical equipment (DME) supply company that Agbu operated with his daughter and co-defendant, Obiageli Agbu, and members of his family from a nondescript office building in Carson.

Agbu admitted that he paid patient recruiters and doctors to provide him with fraudulent prescriptions for expensive, highly specialized power wheelchairs and other DME that he, Obiageli Agbu, and their co-conspirators used in submitting more than $11 million in false claims to Medicare. Agbu billed the power wheelchairs to Medicare at a rate of approximately $6,000 per wheelchair even though he paid approximately $900 wholesale per wheelchair. In many cases, the Medicare beneficiaries to whom Agbu and his co-conspirators claimed they supplied the power wheelchairs and DME did not have any legitimate medical need for the medical equipment and, in some cases, never received the medical equipment from Agbu’s company. At the time Agbu engaged in this fraud, he was a pastor at Pilgrim Congregational Church in South Central Los Angeles.

Other defendants:

Alejandro Maciel, 43, of Huntington Park sentenced to 3-1/2 years in prison  and ordered to pay $5,388,755  in restitution  to Medicare.

Dr. Emmanuel Ayodele, 65, of Los Angeles, sentenced  to three years in prison and ordered to pay $6,355,949 in restitution to Medicare.

 Dr. Juan Van Putten pleaded guilty to Medicare fraud charges and is  scheduled for sentencing on December 12, 2013.

Candelaria Estrada  pleaded guilty to Medicare fraud charges and is scheduled for sentencing on October 31, 2013.  

Obiageli Agbu was convicted by a jury on nine counts of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and health care fraud on July 19, 2013. Her sentencing date has not been set.

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