A Federal jury found three Houston individuals guilty of committing $17 million in Medicare fraud last week at the conclusion of a six-day trial.
John P. Ramirez, M.D., Ann Nwoko Shepherd, and Yvette Nwoko were convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud at the conclusion of a trial in the chambers of U.S. District Judge David Hittner of the Southern District of Texas. In addition to a single count of health care fraud, Nwoko was found guilty on three more counts of health care fraud, Shepherd was handed a guilty verdict on six additional counts of health care fraud, and Ramirez was found guilty of three counts of making false statements relating to health care matters.
Per investigators, Ramirez, 64, signed medical orders for in-home medical care and transferred them to Shepherd, 62, who, in turn, sold them to home-health agencies in the greater Houston area. Prosecutors say the orders Ramirez signed contained false information about patients’ conditions and medical needs, allowing Shepherd to contract for unnecessary medical expenses, billing said expenses to Medicare.
The alleged scheme, which ran from late 2011 through the summer of 2015, eventually involved Nwoko, 30, who was the manager of a medical clinic that sold Ramirez’s allegedly false medical paperwork to third parties as well.
In addition to billing for services provided by third-party home-health companies, investigators say Shepherd also billed Medicare for physician services that were either not conducted by a licensed physician or were not conducted at all.
All in, investigators say the trio billed Medicare for fraudulent charges in excess of $17 million. They are scheduled to be charged for the convictions in mid-December in the same courtroom.