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Dallas-Area Home Health Care Employee Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for His Role in a $3.7 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

A Collin County, Texas man was sentenced to 60 months in prison today following his trial conviction for conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox of the Northern District of Texas, 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, Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider of the FBI’s Dallas Field Office and Director of Law Enforcement David Maxwell of the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) made the announcement. 

Paul Emordi, 52, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle of the Northern District of Texas, who also sentenced Emordi to two years of supervised release and ordered Emordi to pay restitution in the amount of amount $3,559,154.22.  After a six-day trial, Emordi; Celestine “Tony” Okwilagwe, 50, of Dallas County, Texas; Adetutu Etti, 60, also of Dallas County; and Loveth Isidaehomen, 49, also of Dallas County, were each convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  In addition, Okwilagwe and Etti were each convicted of two counts of false statement in connection with a health care benefit program.  Sentencing has been scheduled for Etti on March 28 and for Okwilagwe and Isidaehomen on April 18. 

According to evidence presented at trial, Okwilagwe and Emordi owned and operated Elder Care, a Medicare and Medicaid provider in Garland, Texas, when both were previously excluded from participating in any federal health care benefit program.  Etti, the administrator of Elder Care, concealed Okwilagwe’s ownership and Okwilagwe and Emordi’s exclusions from Medicare and Medicaid.  Etti signed false documents that indicated that no one associated with Elder Care was excluded and that another individual owned Elder Care, the evidence showed.  The evidence further established that Isidaehomen, who is Okwilagwe’s wife, signed bank documents and wrote employee paychecks to conceal both Okwilagwe’s and Emordi’s involvement with Elder Care.  The defendants also engaged in a scheme to submit false and fraudulent bills to Medicare for services that were not needed, the evidence showed. 

This case was investigated by HHS-OIG, the FBI and MFCU.  Assistant Deputy Chief Adrienne Frazior and Trial Attorney Catherine Wagner of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Fusco of the Northern District of Texas are prosecuting the case. 

The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.  Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 14 strike forces operating in 23 districts, has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

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