Baton Rouge businessman Thompson W. Chinwoh was sentenced Monday to four years in federal prison in a scheme that defrauded Medicare of $878,280.

Adekunle A. Obebe, Chinwoh’s attorney, asked U.S. District Judge James J. Brady to consider a sentence of probation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan A. Stevens argued for a prison term of nearly seven years.

The prosecutor said Chinwoh’s business partner, Samuel B. Johnson, 48, earlier was sentenced to five years in prison.

Chinwoh, a naturalized citizen who was born in Nigeria, worked with Johnson at their Medical Supplies of Baton Rouge Inc.

Both men admitted they defrauded Medicare by submitting bogus bills for power wheelchairs and other medical equipment that either had not been prescribed by physicians or were never delivered to patients.

Brady also said Chinwoh had not filed a federal income tax return since 1986.

Chinwoh asserted he filed a tax return in 2002. He added he did not realize he was part of an illegal scheme when MSBR began operations.

“You could have backed out at any time,” Brady said. “You didn’t stop until the government came and stopped you.”

The judge said Chinwoh holds college degrees for which he owes $450,000 in student loans “on which you haven’t paid a dime.”

The judge said Chinwoh must serve two years of post-prison supervision by federal investigators. Brady also ordered Chinwoh and Johnson to jointly pay restitution of $878,280.

Chinwoh must report to federal prison on Aug. 27.