Jonathan Agbebiyi, 63, of Sterling Heights, Michigan, was sentenced yesterday for his role in a $5.4 million Medicare fraud scheme, announced United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade. McQuade was joined in the announcement by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A Breuer of the Criminal Division in Washington, DC, Special Agent-In-Charge, Robert Foley, III, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) Chicago Regional Office.
Agbebiyi was sentenced by United States District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow to 60 months in prison, followed by 2 years supervised release, and ordered to pay $2,982,029.19 in restitution.
In May, 2012, Jonathan Agbebiyi, 63, of Sterling Heights, Michigan, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and six counts of health care fraud. Agbebiyi was a staff physician at three clinics which operated in Livonia, Michigan, between 2007 and 2010: Blessed Medical Clinic, Alpha and Omega Medical Clinic, and Manuel Medical Clinic.
According to the evidence presented during the one week trial, Jonathan Agbebiyi, an obstetrician/gynecologist, joined a conspiracy to bill Medicare for medically unnecessary neurological tests. Some of the tests involved sending an electrical current through the arms and legs of the patients. Clinic employees, who lacked any meaningful training, administered the diagnostic tests. The patients never received any follow up treatment by neurologists.
Evidence at trial showed that the patients were not referred to the clinics by their primary care physicians, or for any other legitimate purpose, but rather were recruited with prescriptions for controlled substances, cash payments, and fast food. The three clinics then billed the Medicare program for various diagnostic tests that were medically unnecessary.
United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade stated, “This doctor exposed patients to electrical currents for neurological testing solely to generate money for himself at the expense of the Medicare program. We hope that cases like this one will deter other doctors from using patients as commodities for personal gain.”
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frances Lee Carlson and Philip A. Ross of the Eastern District of Michigan, with assistance from Assistant Chief Gejaa T. Gobena of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.
Since their inception in March 2007, strike force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,330 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $4 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.