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Los Angeles Jury Convicts Defendant of Fraud Involving More Than $1.1 Million in False Billing to Medicare
Date:9/22/2008

Thirteenth Trial Conviction for Medicare Fraud Strike Force Since Inception

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A federal jury in Los Angeles today convicted the owner and operator of Pacific City Group Inc., a Los Angeles based durable medical equipment (DME) company, of defrauding the Medicare program, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Matthew Friedrich and U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Thomas P. O'Brien announced.

After a one-week trial in federal court, the jury found Leonard Uchenna Nwafor, 42, guilty on all charged counts, including conspiracy to commit health care fraud and health care fraud. U.S. District Judge John F. Walter of the Central District of California set Nwafor's sentencing for Dec. 1, 2008. Nwafor also faces separate federal mail fraud charges for which a trial date has not yet been set.

According to evidence presented at trial, Nwafor owned and operated a DME supply company named Pacific City Group Inc., also known as Pacific City Medical Equipment (Pacific City). Between January 2006 and May 2008, Nwafor billed Medicare $1,109,438 through Pacific City and was paid $526,243 as a result of that billing. Evidence at trial revealed that nearly all of these bills were for medically unnecessary motorized wheelchairs and wheelchair accessories. Even though Pacific City is a Los Angeles-area store, trial testimony proved that the majority of the Medicare bills were submitted on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries in northern California and elsewhere who did not live near Pacific City.

At trial, elderly and disabled Medicare beneficiaries testified that they were encouraged to turn over their Medicare numbers and other personal identifying information in exchange for a promised free motorized wheelchair. According to evidence presented during the trial, Nwafor billed Medicare for motorized wheelchairs on behalf of more than 170 beneficiaries, none of whom neede
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice
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