Doctors indicted for $7.8M healthcare fraud; Florida practice receptionist arrested for theft

Legal Review
Two Alabama doctors and a Florida pratice receptionist face criminal charges. (iStock-BrianAJackson)

Husband and wife physicians who ran a clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, that prosecutors say was used in part as a “pill mill” have been charged in connection with a $7.8 million healthcare fraud conspiracy.

A 44-count indictment was unsealed April 4 and charges Patrick Emeka Ifediba, M.D., 59, and his wife, Uchenna Grace Ifediba, 53, both of Shoal Creek, in the healthcare conspiracy, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office for the northern district of Alabama. Also charged were Patrick Ifediba’s sister, Ngozi Justina Ozuligbo, 48, and Clement Essien Ebio, 60.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents and task force officers had been investigating the Ifedibas and their co-conspirators for three years, said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Bret Hamilton. The charges stem from the defendants’ association with Care Complete Medical Clinic , which provided allergy and pain management services. The doctors allegedly used their prescribing authority to force opioid-dependent patients to submit to unnecessary allergy testing and treatment in exchange for narcotics prescriptions, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

The indictment charges the four defendants stole millions of dollars from healthcare programs by fraudulently billing for allergy treatments and services. The indictment included other charges against the various defendants, including unlawful drug distribution conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.

“Physicians who engage in this illicit practice will soon be trading their white coats for prison stripes,” said U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town.

In other news, a former receptionist for a Coral Springs, Florida, family medical practice, has been charged with stealing at least $25,000 over a 14-month period.

Gloria Karns, 54, worked for about a decade for the former joint practice of Doris Hamawy, M.D., and Bridget Silva, M.D.,  according to the Sun Sentinel. She’s been charged with grand theft for allegedly stealing money between July 2016 and September 2017 that patients paid for checkups and lab fees.

Hamawy, who said she was “disappointed and sad” after the arrest of a once trusted employee, suspected the practice was losing money and reviewed a log book of patient transactions, according to a police report. A forensic accountant hired by the physicians found discrepancies in the practice’s accounting did not happen on days Karns didn’t work, the newspaper reported.