Medical Co Billed The Govt Millions For Wheelchairs For People Who Could Walk

Tristyn Bloom Contributor
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Akinola Afolabi was sentenced to 30 months in prison Tuesday for running a $2.6 million fraud scheme out of the medical supply company he owned, the Department of Justice announced.

Afolabi, who owned Emmanuel Medical Supply in Long Beach, California, “provided medically unnecessary power wheelchairs and other medical equipment to Medicare beneficiaries, and submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare for this equipment,” according to the DOJ release. For three years he submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare, totaling $2,668,384 — even for patients who never received the redundant rollers.

Of the $2.6 million in claims filed, Afolabi received about $1.5 million, all of which he has been ordered to pay back in restitution. Arrested in May 2013, the 54-year-old pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud at the beginning of his trial that August. (RELATED: Doc Admits He Put Patients Through Unnecessary Chemo In Multi-Million Dollar Fraud Scheme)

“The wheelchairs were not medically necessary because the beneficiaries could walk,” said one DOJ spokesman at the time. “In addition, some of the beneficiaries received less expensive medical equipment such as scooters, or did not receive the DME [durable medical equipment] at all. In fact, Mr. Afolabi created false documentation stating he delivered DME on dates when he was not even in the country.”

This is apparently a familiar scheme in Orange County. In April 2013, an Anaheim doctor, Sri J. Wijegunaratne, was found guilty of participating in a similar conspiracy to fraudulently prescribe power wheelchairs (PWCs), helping generate $1.5 million in fraudulent claims, and for which he received kickbacks from medical supply companies. A few years before another PWC ring was busted, this one working with the help of a Santa Ana street gang. All told, the gang bust exposed $25 million in fraudulent Medicare billings. (RELATED: Cardiologist Made Millions Performing Unnecessary Medical Procedures)

Afolabi faced a maximum sentence of ten years, but was sentenced to just two-and-a-half.

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