Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Granny Bird Award: Charles Agbu

This edition of the Granny Bird Award, given from time to time to those who harm the rights and lives of elders, goes to Charles Agbu, who has copped a plea in a Medicare fraud case.

A Carson pastor pleaded guilty Monday to submitting more than $11 million in Medicare reimbursement through fraudulent clinics and by promising patients expensive equipment, according to the Department of Justice.

Charles Agbu, 58, of Carson, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and one count of money laundering in U.S. District Court.

Agbu, a pastor at Pilgrim Congregational Church, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine when he is sentenced in May.

Agbu admitted to owning Bonfee Inc., a fraudulent medical equipment supply company, and acknowledged that he paid patient recruiters to approach Medicare beneficiaries and convinced them to give him their Medicare information in exchange for specialized power wheelchairs, officials say.

Agbu would then bill Medicare officials for the wheelchairs without delivering them to his clients. He also admitted to paying for fake prescriptions and other fraudulent documents in order to be able to continue  billing Medicare for medical equipment, authorities say.  ...

The case was brought by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a special unit of investigators launched in May 2009 by the Justice and Health and Human Services departments.   [Emphasis added]

Apparently "Pastor" Agbu wasn't too familiar with the Ten Commandments, especially that one about lying.  Some attribute for a man of God.

While the article isn't clear as to how much money the good "pastor" reaped by his scam, the fine does seem a little low, even by plea-deal standards.  That 20 years in prison, however, does seem appropriate and I hope the judge gives him all 20 years.  That will at least send a message.

Finally, at a time when the vile idiots in Washington are considering cuts to Medicare/Medicaid, perhaps that could be accomplished by tightening up the language of the original legislation which left loopholes for this kind of fraud to be accomplished.  The Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services, the agency charged to oversee such billings needs to be ramped up so that it can spot these scams before they hit the $11 million mark.  And more money to the agencies investigating such fraud (DOJ and HHS) would also be helpful in rooting out the wrongdoers, recovering their ill-gotten gains, and slamming their backsides in prison for long terms.

Let your congress critters know that these are the only kind of "cuts" to Medicare/Medicaid which are acceptable and do it today.   

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