After two weeks a jury convicted Dr. Howard Grant of Houston Texas of healthcare fraud and conspiracy. He will serve 41 months in a federal penitentiary and pay more than $120,000 in restitution for his role in a durable medical equipment fraud that cost the already-strapped Medicare system more than a million dollars. His co-conspirators, Obisike Nwankwo and John Lachman were also sentenced and ordered to pay restitution. According to DoJ:
Evidence at trial established that Onward Medical Supply, a Houston-area DME company, billed Medicare for fraudulent DME, including power wheelchairs and orthotic devices, beginning in 2003 and continuing until late 2009. In addition to the three co-conspirators sentenced today, one additional individual was convicted at trial, and seven individuals have pleaded guilty for their participation in various parts of Onward’s Medicare fraud scheme, including Onward’s owner, Doris Vinitski.
Vinitski worked with Medicare biller and co-defendant John Nasky Okonkwo and others in late 2008 and early 2009 to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare identifying Dr. Howard Grant as the prescribing physician for the DME. The claims were submitted in several groups in November 2008. Evidence presented at trial showed that Grant learned about the fraudulent prescriptions prior to Onward’s submission of the claims to Medicare. Evidence at trial also showed that, upon learning of the prescriptions, Grant asked Vinitski for $10,000 in exchange for allowing the fraud scheme to continue.
Evidence at trial established that Nwankwo acted as a delivery driver for Onward and several other DME companies and that he delivered DME such as power wheelchairs and orthotics for Onward to beneficiaries who did not want or need the equipment. One beneficiary testified at trial that when Nwankwo tried to deliver a power wheelchair to her, she told him to get off her front step or she would call the police.