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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Indicted businessman is on most wanted list

Indicted businessman is on most wanted list

He is accused of committing health care fraud


A 42-year-old home-health care business owner from Houston, indicted two years ago for fraudulent wheelchair claims, particularly during Hurricane Ike, is now a top 10 fugitive.
The addition of Ezechukwu "Dr. Joshua" Ohaka marks the first time a Houston resident has made the Ten Most Wanted list, which was launched earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.
The list, modeled after the FBI's 10 Most Wanted, is an attempt to capture health care fugitives.
Health care fraud involving Medicare and Medicaid costs the nation's taxpayers about $60 billion annually.
According to the indictment, Ohaka, along with his co-conspirators, submitted more than $3.1 million in fraudulent Medicare claims for new or replacement wheelchairs for Gulf Coast residents.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued checks totaling $1.08 million to Ohaka's operation before determining the claims were fraudulent.
Last month, two of his co-conspirators were convicted. Helen Etinfoh was sentenced to 41 months in prison and Paula Whitfield was handed a 21-month sentence.
"Ohaka was the only one we were not able to find," said Joseph Prekker, Houston's OIG agent in charge. "He's the one we want the most and he's the one who got away."
According to Prekker, Ohaka's fraud scheme involved his Houston-based company, Luant & Odera, Inc. The company, which operated out of two Houston locations and one in Spring, billed Medicare, the nation's largest medical insurer for the elderly, for power wheelchairs, motorized scooters and wheelchair accessories.
An investigation by the agancy revealed that they were either not needed or were not provided.
There was no sign of Ohaka at his home.
"It was clear no one had been there for a number of weeks," Prekker said.

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