Home health owners and employees convicted of $3.7 million fraud

Four people were convicted of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud in a $3.7 million scheme at Garland-based, Elder Care.

Men barred from Medicaid and Medicare

Evidence showed Celestine “Tony” Okwilagwe and Paul Emordi owned and operated Elder Care. The men were barred from participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs, but the home health agency billed more than $3.7 million to Medicaid and Medicare. They also submitted fraudulent claims for unneeded services to Medicare.

Employees covered up their ownership

Tutu Kudiaratu Etti, the administrator of the agency, allegedly falsified documents to hide the identity of the owners. Loveth Isidaehomen, wife of Okwilagwe, signed bank documents and employee checks to conceal her husband’s ownership of the company. Etti and Isidaehomen were also convicted of false statements for these crimes.

Okwilagwe, Emordi, Etti and Isidaehomen are awaiting sentencing by U.S. District Court Judge Jane Boyle of the Northern District of Texas.

Healthcare fraud penalties are severe

Healthcare fraud is treated seriously in Texas. Under the False Claims Act, a convicted healthcare provider faces up to five years in jail per violation and fines up to $250,000 per offense. Healthcare professionals may also lose their licenses and ability to use the Medicare and Medicaid system, like Okwilagwe and Emordi. Those convicted may also have their assets seized to pay the imposed fines.

If the crimes are charged at a federal level, the penalties potentially increase. Anyone accused of healthcare fraud should consider contacting an experienced attorney to protect his or her reputation and ability to practice medicine.