Criminal Justice News

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nigerian Fugitive Returned to Houston to Face Charges in Multi-Million-Dollar Health Care Fraud


HOUSTON—Godwin Chiedo Nzeocha, 45, a naturalized United States citizen originally from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has been returned to the United States to stand trial in a $45 million health care fraud case, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Nzeocha was charged October 19, 2009 with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, 39 counts of health care fraud, three counts of mail fraud, and three counts of money laundering in relation to his role in the City Nursing Services of Texas Inc. health care fraud conspiracy.

Agents were unable to arrest Nzeocha after he was charged in 2009. He was later arrested in Nigeria and arrived back in Houston today. He is expected to make an initial appearance this morning before U.S. Magistrate George C. Hanks, Jr., at which time the United States will request he remain in federal custody pending further criminal proceedings.

According to the indictment, Nzeocha signed patient file documents as the provider of physical therapy services he was not qualified to provide and, according to evidence provided during trial of his alleged co-conspirators, which were not, in fact, provided to Medicare beneficiaries. The indictment also alleges Nzeocha handed out cash payments to recruiters who brought Medicare beneficiaries to City Nursing and to Medicare beneficiaries in return for signatures on blank patient treatment forms.

To date, five people have been convicted in this massive health care fraud conspiracy, including City Nursing’s owner, Umawa Oke Imo, who is now serving 27 years in prison.

Nzeocha faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and money laundering charges, upon conviction. A conviction for mail fraud carries an additional maximum punishment of up to 20 years in prison.

This case has been investigated by the FBI, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, and the Texas Attorney General’s Office-Medicare Fraud Control Unit. Special thanks is extended to the Nigerian government and the Office of International Affairs in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, who provided assistance. Assistant United States Attorney Julie Redlinger is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

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