Seven in North Texas arrested for alleged Medicare fraud

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on February 17, 2011 at 10:17 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 17 at 10:46 PM

PLANO - Seven North Texans are among 111 people facing charges for Medicare fraud after what's being called a nationwide bust.

Many are doctors, nurses and physical therapists, accused of defrauding the government of $225 million in false billing claims.

The North Texas indictments center around two health care businesses. One is a Fort Worth company that sells medical equipment; the other is a Dallas home health care company owned and operated by two local couples.

Ernest and Edith Amadi, of Wylie, would not talk as they left the U.S. Courthouse in Plano. They were released from custody by Federal Magistrate Don Bush at their arraignment. 

George and Agatha Opurum, of Richardson, also said nothing. The two couples own and operate Alliance Health Care Services in Dallas. 

"They billed or made claims for services for beneficiaries when they really did not provide services to those beneficiaries," said Jim Jacks, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas.

The Amadis and the Opurums are also charged with using a recruiter, Ollie Futrell, to offer Medicare recipients kickbacks to use their identification numbers to file false claims.

"The Amadis, through Mr. Futrell, would approach individuals and simply pay them money, a kickback, $100 or $200 or $250, to be able to use their card," Jacks said.

In the Fort Worth case, Sylvia and Hugh Willett, the owners of JS&H Orthopedic, are accused of making false Medicare claims for equipment they never sold and for selling inferior equipment to what they were billing the government. 

"The equipment they provided cost $995, in one instance, $795," Jacks said. "And the allegation is that they merely provided a pillow, which had a value of about $30."

The Willetts are accused of defrauding Medicare of almost $2 million. They could face up to 10 years in prison.

The owners and operators of Alliance could face five years in prison for more than $1 million in bad claims.

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