Christina Clardy, a 61-year-old West U doctor, was convicted with two other people of running a massive Medicaid-and-money-laundering scam that somehow involved Nigerian tankers, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced today.
Kenneth Anokam, 56, and Nigerian citizen Umawa Imo, 57, were also convicted in the scheme, which involved up to $30 million in Medicaid funds. Another Houston doctor, Dr. Thaddeus Hume, 63, was acquitted on all charges.
"During the 13-day trial beginning May 9, 2011, the jury learned that City Nursing Services of Texas Inc., a clinic located on the 9800 block of Bissonnet Street in Houston, billed Medicare and Medicaid for approximately $45 million worth of physical therapy services they did not provide over a two and a half year period," prosecutors said. "By March 2009, Medicare and Medicaid had paid approximately $30 million dollars on the physical therapy claims."
The feds then began asking questions, and not liking the answers they were getting.
The charges also included "five counts of money laundering related to five transactions totaling $2,805,195 from a City Nursing bank account for referrals, the purchase and shipping of tankers to Lagos, Nigeria, as well as a check for more than $1 million payable to Imo himself," prosecutors said.
It was quite the operation:
Jurors heard testimony from numerous Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries about how they were paid for coming to the clinic and signing undated blank treatment forms. One beneficiary testified that when she asked for physical therapy, she was told the clinic did not provide that type of services and was instructed to go to her primary care physician for a referral. Another beneficiary described the clinic as looking like an unemployment office with people just hanging out, and referred to a day when he saw an employee direct a patient to make a pot of coffee.
There was no licensed physical therapist working at the clinic and "treatments" were predominantly limited to short massages and hot packs. Beneficiaries could use the treadmills and other exercise equipment at their own will. Three former employees of the clinic testified about how they handed out cash given to them by Imo and Anokam to beneficiaries and to "recruiters" or "marketers" who brought beneficiaries to the clinic.
Sentencing is set for September.