A physician who once taught at LSU and the former pastor of a Baton Rouge ministry are among four men convicted on federal conspiracy charges related to the alleged theft of $2.5 million from Medicare.
Dr. Sofjan M. Lamid, 82, of Mandeville, and Henry Lamont Jones, 36, of Zachary, were convicted Tuesday night with Nnanta Felix Ngari, 54, of Prairieville, and Ernest Payne, 51, of Houston.
A jury of six women and six men deliberated for more than four hours before returning the verdict.
U.S. District Judge James J. Brady did not immediately schedule a sentencing date for the men. He ordered Lamid, however, not to submit any additional bills to Medicare or Medicaid.
Justice Department prosecutors Ben Curtis and David Maria told jurors at trial that Ngari used his Unique Medical Solution Inc. to obtain nearly $2.5 million from Medicare for 394 power wheelchairs unnecessarily prescribed by Lamid. They said the physician received kickbacks ranging from $50 to $100 for each of those prescriptions.
Lamid denied those allegations in testimony before the jury.
Prosecutors said Jones and Payne, who lived in the Baton Rouge area during the six-year conspiracy, recruited poor and rural residents to health fairs where Lamid wrote the prescriptions.
Jones was pastor at The Lifeline Ministry Inc. in Baton Rouge, defense attorney C. Frank Holthaus told the jury. Holthaus said Payne served as assistant pastor.
Records of the Louisiana Secretary of State list the nonprofit in the 6500 block of North Foster Drive as inactive.