Fraud, Drugs & Money Laundering

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Pills spilling out of a prescription bottle on 100 dollar paper currency

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is about a doctor from Alabama who is facing decades in prison after being convicted of 35 charges related to healthcare fraud, illegal drug distribution, and money laundering. A federal court in November rejected his request for a new trial. (Read on to see why.)

Patrick Ifediba, 61, owned Care Complete Medical Clinic in Birmingham with his wife, who is also a doctor. The couple was indicted in 2018 on charges of using the internal medicine clinic as a “pill mill” and money laundering hub that fueled Alabama’s opioid crisis and illegally billed Medicare and others for $7.8 million. (Now you get the picture.)

Charges against Ifediba’s wife were dropped. However, his sister, 50, who was a registered nurse at the clinic, was convicted of 12 charges involving healthcare fraud and money laundering. Each charge of healthcare fraud and conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison.

According to the government’s case, Ifediba routinely overprescribed opioids and dangerous drug cocktails with the intention of giving patients return visits. (More visits equal more money.) Although it was not a pain management clinic, 85 percent of patients received opioid prescriptions.

Ifediba used allergy tests and treatments as the basis for fraud, according to testimony. Although none of the practitioners were trained in allergy treatments (so much for complete care), Ifediba ordered unwanted allergy tests and sometimes withheld drug prescriptions until the tests were scheduled. Some allergy treatments were ordered even after patients tested negative for allergies.

The clinic’s billing receipts for allergy tests and treatment accounted for more than 60 percent of the state’s total. (I’m sure that raised a red flag.) One private insurer was billed $3 million for allergy services over two-and-a-half years, according to testimony from insurers. (That’s a lot of allergy shots.)

Meanwhile, the doctor from Alabama opened numerous bank accounts and shell corporations in the names of others to hide the fraud, committing money laundering in the process, prosecutors said. (Thankfully, a federal jury has put a stop to these money laundering fraudsters who were trying to take Medicare to the cleaners.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a U.S. Justice Department media release, “Federal Jury Convicts Birmingham Doctor and Nurse for $7.8 Million Health Care Fraud, Unlawful Drug Distribution and Money Laundering,” distributed July 16, 2019.

BIRMINGHAM – A federal jury today convicted Dr. PATRICK EMEKA IFEDIBA, 60, of Shelby County and Patrick Ifediba’s sister, NGOZI JUSTINA OZULIGBO, 49, of Trussville of numerous crimes stemming from their involvement with Care Complete Medical Clinic, located in Birmingham, Alabama, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr., and Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge Clay Morris.

Following a four-week trial before Judge David R. Proctor, the jury convicted Ifediba of thirty-five counts involving unlawful drug distribution, health care fraud, and money laundering.  Specifically, Ifediba was convicted of: (i) one count of conspiracy to illegally distribute controlled substances by means of prescriptions; (ii) fourteen counts of illegal prescribing; (iii) one count of maintaining drug-involved premises; (iv) one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud; (v) ten counts of health care fraud; (vi) one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering; (vii) three counts of concealment money laundering; and (viii) four counts of engaging in monetary transactions involving criminally derived property greater than $10,000.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.