HOUSTON – A Richmond man, who was accused of being involved in a conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks, was found guilty, according to the US Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Texas.
After just 15 minutes of deliberation, 44-year-old Patrick Osemwengie was found guilty of one-count conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks.
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“Health care peddlers like Osemwengie prey on the elderly and are part of the larger health care fraud problem,” said US Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani. “Illegal kickbacks and related crimes damage Medicare’s ability to help those who truly need it. We will continue to prosecute these individuals and work to preserve the system designed to protect and insure our nations’ most vulnerable citizens.”
Officials said during the trial the jury heard from witnesses from Ebra Home Health who tested that Osemwengie would sell them Medicare patients. He charged $500 a kickback for an initial home health certification and a $250 kickback for a recertification.
A Medicare representative tested that Medicare prohibits payment of kickbacks for home health services.
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The jury also heard from an elderly Medicare beneficiary who explained how Osemwengie paid him money to sign up for home health care companies, including Ebra Home Health. He tested that he was not able to get home health when he actually needed it because the past fraudulent billings Osemwengie helped facilitate.
Evidence revealed that Osemwengie received $13,000 in kickback payments from Ebra Health Care Services.
The US District Attorney’s Office said the defense attempted to convince the jury Osemwengie was being paid $50 an hour for passing out flyers and not that the money was a result of kickbacks. However, the owner of Ebra Home Health refuted that the assertion at trial and tested Osemwengie was paid per patient, in violation of the anti-kickback statute. The jury did not believe the defense and found Osemwengie guilty as charged.
Sentencing for Osemwengie will take place on July 7. He faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.