Walking a Crooked Line

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Vestibular testing is used to determine if there is something wrong with the inner ear. (It’s definitely no walk in the park to be dizzy for prolonged periods of time.) A press release issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation tells about a husband and wife team who tried to mess up the balance of two vital health care benefit programs by billing Medicare and Medicaid for more than $9 million in bogus claims.

The press release states that the husband owned the health care company and his wife, who was a registered nurse, helped him run the business. The man paid kickbacks through his company to Medicare beneficiaries who visited the clinic. (He also billed Medicare and Medicaid for vestibular testing that was never performed under a local physician who happened to be incarcerated on unrelated charges.) Over approximately three-and-a-half years, both benefits programs paid out more than $4.7 million for the health care company’s fraudulent claims.

The 56-year-old health care company owner pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and to violate the anti-kickback statute. He was sentenced to five years in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

The 47-year-old wife was convicted of concealing the crime and was sentenced to one year of probation with home confinement followed by another year of supervised release. Together, the couple will pay nearly $4 million in restitution for their criminal acts. A third defendant involved in the case is scheduled to be sentenced.

Congratulations to the investigators involved in this case for not getting knocked off balance by the illegal activities of this fraudulent couple. (Perhaps these two need some vestibular testing of their own to correct the crooked path they took.) It looks like they will be held accountable for their actions and will be forced to walk a straight line from now on.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on a press release titled, ”Husband and Wife Sentenced in Multi-Million-Dollar Health Care Fraud Scheme,” released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on April 27, 2015.

HOUSTON—William Owuama, 56, and Marla Owuama, 47, have been sentenced following their convictions related to a healthcare fraud scheme in which Mr. Owuama’s Company billed Medicare and Medicaid for more than $9 million, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Both pleaded guilty Feb. 2, 2015. A third defendant—Florida Holiday Island, 65—is set to be sentenced on Wednesday. All are from Houston.

Today, U.S. District Judge Nancy F. Atlas sentenced William Owuama to a total of 60 months in federal prison for his conviction of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and violate the anti-kickback statute. Mr. Owuama must also serve a three-year-term of supervised release following completion of his prison sentence. Marla Owuama was convicted of misprision of a felony for helping to conceal the crime and was ordered to serve a 12-month-term of probation with a condition of home confinement to be followed by one year of supervised release. In addition to their sentences, the Owuamas were ordered to pay $3,951,019.89 in restitution. In handing down the sentences, Judge Atlas noted the massive size of the scheme.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.