The owner and director of nursing of a Houston home health agency was sentenced today to 75 years in prison for her role in a $13 million Medicare fraud scheme.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez of the Southern District of Texas, Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI’s Houston Field Office, Special Agent in Charge C.J. Porter of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Dallas Region and Special Agent in Charge D. Richard Goss of the Houston Field Office of IRS-Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) made the announcement.
Marie Neba, 53, of Sugarland, Texas, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon of the Southern District of Texas. In November 2016, Neba was convicted after a two-week jury trial of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, three counts of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks, one count of payment and receipt of health care kickbacks, one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and one count of making health care false statements.
According to the evidence presented at trial, from February 2006 through June 2015, Neba and others conspired to defraud Medicare by submitting over $10 million in false and fraudulent claims for home health services to Medicare through Fiango Home Healthcare Inc., owned by Neba and her husband, Ebong Tilong, 53, also of Sugarland, Texas. The trial evidence showed that using the money that Medicare paid for such fraudulent claims, Neba paid illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters for referring Medicare beneficiaries to Fiango for home health services. Neba also paid illegal kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries for allowing Fiango to bill Medicare using beneficiaries’ Medicare information for home health services that were not medically necessary or not provided, the evidence showed. Neba falsified medical records to make it appear as though the Medicare beneficiaries qualified for and received home health services. Neba also attempted to suborn perjury from a co-defendant in the federal courthouse, the evidence showed.
According to the evidence presented at trial, from February 2006 to June 2015, Neba received more than $13 million from Medicare for home health services that were not medically necessary or not provided to Medicare beneficiaries.
To date, four others have pleaded guilty based on their roles in the fraudulent scheme at Fiango. Nirmal Mazumdar, M.D., the former medical director of Fiango, pleaded guilty to a scheme to commit health care fraud for his role at Fiango. Daisy Carter and Connie Ray Island, two patient recruiters for Fiango, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud for their roles at Fiango. On August 11, Island was sentenced to 33 months in prison. Mazumdar and Carter are awaiting sentencing. After the first week of trial, Tilong pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, three counts of healthcare fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay and receive healthcare kickbacks, three counts of payment and receipt of healthcare kickbacks, and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. Tilong is scheduled to be sentenced on October 13.
The case was investigated by the IRS-CI, FBI and HHS-OIG under the supervision of the Fraud Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney William S.W. Chang and Senior Trial Attorney Jonathan T. Baum of the Fraud Section.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations nationwide. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged over 3,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $12.5 billion.
Former Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan is reported to have been kidnapped on Sunday by unknown gunmen. Local media portal Libya Herald reported that he was abducted at a hotel in central Tripoli.
This is the second time he has been kidnapped since 2013 when he was abducted for a few hours as prime minister by the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room. Perpetrators of Sunday’s abduction are unknown.
Abadi Choudi, a British citizen of Lebanese origin, has just been arrested at the Douala international airport, the Cameroonian economic capital, with a cargo of rough diamonds worth an estimated FCfa 630 million, we learned from customs sources.
Born in Monrovia, capital of Liberia, a country ravaged from 1999 to 2003 by a civil war financed in part by so called blood diamonds, the smuggler arrested in Douala was apparently tailed by Cameroonian intelligence agents, before being caught red-handed.
Some sources close to the case suspect that the diamonds seized in the luggage of Abadi Choudi come from the Central African Republic (CAR), big producer of these precious stones, which shares a long land border with Cameroon, in the Eastern region.
We can recall that on 2 December 2016, on the eve of an assessment mission by the Kimberly Process (international mechanism to track diamonds sold worldwide, to avoid using them to finance wars, Ed.) in Cameroon, a report from the NGO Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) had denounced “the incapacity” of the Cameroonian public authorities “to implement the Kimberley Process”.
Entitled “From conflict to illicit: Mapping the diamond trade from the Central African Republic to Cameroon”, this report revealed in particular that “Cameroon is allowing conflict diamonds from the Central African Republic to cross over its borders and into the legal supply chain due to poor controls, smuggling and corruption ».
These accusations were denied by the local monitoring Committee for the implementation of the Kimberly Process, and were also not confirmed by the mission of experts from the international committee, who investigated in several towns in the Eastern region of Cameroon, during the first half of December 2016.
As a reminder, the logging and mining region of Eastern Cameroon officially hosts approximately 60,000 Central African refugees supervised by the UN-HCR, and whose links and communication with their homeland were not but, mainly due to the porous nature of the border between Cameroon and CAR.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has updated its data on global deaths with Africa experiencing a decrease in the recurrent leading causes of death including HIV/AIDS and malaria.
The new death statistics researched by African fact-checking organisation, Africa Check, indicated that lifestyle diseases have taken over as the leading causes of death on the continent.
Top on the list are lower respiratory tract infections. These are caused by viruses and bacteria that target airways and lungs.
The most common diseases under this category is bronchitis or pneumonia which is responsible for 16% of global deaths of children younger than five.
HIV/AIDS took the number two position despite the increase in education on prevention and treatment.
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus disables the immune system restricting defence against infections.
An estimated 760,000 deaths from HIV/AIDS and related complications were recorded in Africa in 2015, against the 1 million deaths in 2010.
The third leading cause of death in Africa are diarrhoeal diseases caused by viral, bacterial or parasitic infections.
This is the passage of three or more liquid stools per day or more than normal for a person.
88% of deaths in this category worldwide are due to unsafe water, poor sanitation and insufficient hygiene, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It is the second leading cause of death of children younger than five in Africa.
The next leading cause of death is stroke which has increased over the past five years from 406,595 (4.4% of deaths) to 451,000 deaths (4.9%) in 2015.
This disease occurs when blood flow to a region of the brain is interrupted by either a clot or bleeding, depriving the body of oxygen and nutrients.
The next leading cause of death in Africa is the ischaemic heart disease or commonly known as heart attack.
This is the narrowing of the arteries of the heart due to the buildup of plaques causing less oxygen to reach portions of the heart. When fully blocked, damage is caused to the heart and death occurs.
In 2010, 389,785 deaths were as a result of heart attack (or 4.2% of total deaths). This increased in 2015 to an estimated 441,000 deaths (or 4.8% of the total).
The sixth leading cause of death in Africa is tuberculosis (456,000 or 4.7% of total), followed by malaria (403,000, or 4.4%), preterm birth complications (344,000 or 3.7%), birth asphyxia or trauma (321,000 or 3.5%) and road injury (269,000 or 2.9%).
This information includes 2015 WHO data. The estimates are based on the latest available national information on deaths collected from national civil registration systems of deaths, with the underlying cause of death captured by the national authority or partner organisations.
The African Union Commission has called on Africans in the continent, diaspora and international partners to support Sierra Leone after at least 312 people died in a mudslide in the capital Freetown on Monday.
African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat made the appeal as more than 2,000 people have been left homeless after the heavy flood washed away their homes.
He also called for support of the country’s public health system to respond to the disaster.
Sierra Leone’s security services and the Red Cross were deployed to locate and rescue citizens trapped in their homes or under rubble.
Several bodies were found floating in the flood that is termed as one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit the country.
It started after torrential rains early Monday morning that washed away mud houses and submerged many at hilltop communities.
More schools set on fire as a Baptist college is visited with flames in Nkwen Bamenda by unknown individuals. This took place on Sunday 13 August 2017, early in the morning.
Residents of the concerned neighbourhood were shocked as they woke up to see Baptist Comprehensive college, uncontrollably consumed by fire. They sought to know those behind the act but instead, they found themselves facing more unanswerable questions like, why the school was chosen of all the other schools around the area.
No time to waste with irrelevant questions at that moment, fire fighters had to be called. They arrived and battled with the fire but could not save the building from being razed down by the heavy flames.
Soon it will be the so called school reopening in September. Where will the students of that institution have their lessons? No one knows.