A doctor from Saginaw, Michigan is today a convicted felon after pleading guilty to three criminal charges related to a phony Medicaid billing scheme. The Michigan Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the state attorney general report that Chidozie Ononuju was convicted in the Ingham County Circuit Court.
Few details have been released but we do know that Dr. Ononuju was convicted of a false billing scheme operated out of his two Saginaw medical offices.
Billing fraud in Michigan typically involves double billing, billing for services that were not medically necessary, overbilling and billing for a higher level of service than required (upcoding). We have seen many cases in the Detroit metro area where physicians billed for services that were not even provided!
Many people believe that Medicaid fraud is a victimless crime. Michigan residents, however, may remember the recent case of Dr. Farid Fata. Prosecutors say that Dr. Fata was the mastermind behind one of the largest healthcare frauds in U.S. history.
He is currently serving 45 years in prison after prosecutors say that he told healthy patients they were dying of cancer and then administered massive doses of chemotherapy drugs they didn’t need.
Obviously, not every Medicaid fraud causes so much patient harm as that created by Dr. Fata. But even when a doctor doesn’t physically harm his patients, stealing from Medicaid often means that truly needy patients must wait longer for treatment.
Dr. Ononuju Avoids Prison Sentence
Dr. Ononuju was sentenced to 5 years of probation for his wrongdoing and has already paid back the state $400,000. The court also forbade him from writing prescriptions for narcotics. A 2008 press report says Ononuju operated four medical clinics and a pharmacy. In addition to being a physician, he is also a pharmacist.
Like most Medicaid fraud cases, investigators were tipped off last year to Ononuju’s billing scam by a whistleblower.
Michigan Offers Cash Awards for Medicaid Fraud Whistleblower Tips
The Michigan Medicaid False Claims Act offers powerful financial incentives to whistleblowers with inside information about Medicaid fraud. Awards range between 15% and 30% of whatever is collected from the wrongdoers. In Dr. Ononuju’s case, that could mean an award of between $60,000 and $120,000!
The U.S Department of Justice offers similar awards for both Medicaid and Medicare fraud. In Medicaid fraud cases, it is not uncommon for whistleblowers to earn two awards.
Medicare fraud costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars each year. Every dollar that goes into the pocket of a criminal is one less dollar available for patient care. Don’t let these criminals drive up our taxes and healthcare costs.
Most Medicaid fraud is uncovered only after a concerned healthcare worker comes forward and reports the misconduct. Anyone with inside information can qualify for an award… billing clerks, therapists, other doctors, nurses, and sometimes patients.
Receiving an award isn’t difficult but does require a lawyer. There are very specific steps that must be filed to receive one of the larger awards. Calling a state Medicaid Fraud Control Unit directly might qualify you for a $1000 cash award but the big percentage awards are reserved for those who file a lawsuit under the Michigan or federal False Claims Act.
Learn More on How to Earn a Whistleblower Award
Whistleblowers whose cases are successful in recovering government funds receive hundreds of millions of dollars in awards each year. Million dollar awards are common. If you have knowledge of Medicare or Medicaid fraud, submit your report. One of our panel of lawyers will provide a no cost evaluation of your case and help you decide if you have a case.
Help put a stop to fraud and collect your cash reward.