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Take Off the White Coat

Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

A Florida doctor has pleaded guilty to more than 50 counts of healthcare fraud after admitting to actively deceiving patients and performing unnecessary medical procedures. (Not exactly an area in which you want to be an overachiever.) Dr. Moses de-Graft Johnson, who is a dual citizen of the United States and Ghana, pleaded guilty to committing healthcare fraud, conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

Dr. de-Graft Johnson owned and operated the company Thorvasc PA which was known as the Heart and Vascular Institute of North Florida (HVINF). HVINF was a physician’s office and outpatient catheterization laboratory located in Tallahassee. He admitted to violating the Hippocratic Oath and causing harm to hundreds of patients that were under his care.

Between 2015 and the time of his arrest in 2020, Dr. de-Graft Johnson performed unnecessary and invasive surgeries on many of his patients. Specifically, he performed two invasive diagnostic angiography procedures, one on each leg, for hundreds of his patients despite the fact that they were not medically necessary. (That sounds psychopathic.)

When patients returned for follow up visits, Dr. de-Graft Johnson submitted fraudulent claims to their insurance companies stating he performed atherectomies during the appointments. (Atherectomy is a procedure that removes plaque from a blood vessel, usually an artery, so blood can flow more easily to the heart. Additionally, the doctor falsified medical records of patients by recording medical procedures that he did not perform. (Not only is he a fraud, he’s also a liar.)

The doctor admitted he falsely claimed to have performed over 3,000 surgical procedures to clear blockages in arteries in 845 of his patients’ legs. (These falsified records could have caused doctors to misdiagnose a patient in the future and further harm the patient.) Prosecutors are working on informing the defendant’s former patients about the true status of their medical conditions so that they can secure appropriate treatment going forward.

Dr. de-Graft Johnson sought out new patients to exploit by establishing relationships with churches, nursing homes, hospitals, and outreach organizations in underserved communities. (He preyed on the most vulnerable in the community so that he could line his own pockets.)

As a result of this scheme, HVINF fraudulently obtained at least $29 million from private and government insurance programs. The United States is pursuing all of Dr. de-Graft Johnson’s forfeitable assets in the U.S. and overseas. This includes luxury vehicles, jewelry, homes in Manhattan, Southampton, New York, Miami, and the Houston area. (Most of which he obtained using funds from his ongoing fraud.) He is also expected to forfeit more than $1 million in cash.

Dr. de-Graft Johnson pled guilty to 56 counts of health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and aggravated identity theft.  Each conspiracy and health care fraud charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, and a maximum fine equal to twice the value of the loss to the health care benefit program. The aggravated identity theft charge has a mandatory sentence of two years of imprisonment, which must be consecutive to any other sentence, and a maximum fine of $250,000. Dr. de-Graft Johnson’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 8, 2021, at the United States District Court in Tallahassee.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Tallahassee Doctor Pleads Guilty To Defrauding Health Insurance Providers of $29 Million And Performing Unnecessary Invasive Surgical Procedures On Hundreds Of Patients,” published on December 18, 2020.

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – Dr. Moses de-Graft Johnson, a dual citizen of the United States and Ghana, pled guilty today to committing health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Lawrence Keefe, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced the plea.

Over the course of almost four years, beginning in late 2015 or early 2016 until his arrest in February 2020, deGraft-Johnson did significant harm to hundreds of patients living in the Tallahassee area. Many of these innocent victims underwent unnecessary and invasive surgical procedures, while others were victimized through medical records reflecting procedures he did not perform – erroneous and misleading records that could cause doctors in the future to determine a mistaken course of medical treatment for many patients.

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