25 charged in largest health care fraud bust in D.C. history, feds say

More than 20 people have been arrested in what federal prosectors are calling the largest healthcare fraud takedown in the history of the District of Columbia.

Following a multi-year-long investigation into bogus billing practices, more than 200 law enforcement agents spread across the region Thursday to raid homes and businesses, make arrests and seize dozens of bank accounts and property. 

Those arrested include operators of home care agencies, operators of nurse staffing agencies, office workers and personal care assistants. One woman is accused of bilking taxpayers out of $75 million.symbol

“This investigation has revealed that Medicaid fraud in the District of Columbia is at epidemic levels,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen.  “This fraud diverts precious taxpayer dollars, drives up the cost of health care, and jeopardizes the strength of a program that serves the most vulnerable members of our society.”

Investigators uncovered numerous and separate schemes involving fraud, kickbacks, and false billings in the growing field of home care services for D.C. Medicaid patients. Medicaid pays for home health care aides to help patients with daily living, such as getting in and out of bed, bathing, dressing and keeping track of medication.

In one scheme, Florence Bikundi, 51, of Bowie, the owner of three home care agencies, who was barred from participating in federal health care programs after her nursing license was revoked, is accused of collecting more than $75 million through the District of Columbia and Maryland Medicaid programs.

Other individuals are accused of recruiting Medicaid beneficiaries to falsely fill out time sheets claiming they received services that they didn’t actually receive. The individuals received about $200 every two weeks for their false claims, authorities said.

Another woman, Adoshia L. Flythe, 36, of Washington, D.C., was accused of selling counterfeit home health care aide certificates.

Others charged are as follows:

Arrey Kingsly Etchi-Banyi, 30, of College Park, owner of Ultimate Goal Home Care Agency, and his employees or associates, Oyebola Hammed Babarinde, 25, of Forestville.; Oluwatoyin Bakare, 25, of Laurel; Cecilia Acquah, 32, of Silver Spring; and Oyebisi Zaart Babarinde, 31, of Forestville.

Felix Aburi Fon, 41, and his wife, Maribel Tenjoh Muku, 32, personal care aides.

Ernest N. Nkongsah, 38, of New Carrollton; Elizabeth E. Arung, 41, of Silver Spring; Desiree Nkemera Besong, 35, of Hyattsville.

Those charged with taking kickbacks for particiapting in home health care fraud include: Cedonne Ngwilefem Alemnji, 28, of Hyattsville; Dennis Allen, 56, of Washington, D.C.; Niba Ayinwingong, 49, of Glenarden; Etienne Boussougou, 34, of Hyattsville; Ulric Ayo Boyle, 47, of Silver Spring; Rose Epse-Acha, 53, of Greenbelt; Brandon Chenwi Shu Fobeth, 28, of Greenbelt; Michael Fomundam, 38, of Greenbelt; Eric Mukala, 47, of Bladensburg; Michael Nyantakyi, 32, of Lanham;  Eliane Poungoum, 47, of Bladensburg; Victor Tarkeh, 47, of Bowie; and Paul Tengwei, 31, of Takoma Park.

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