A federal jury in New Orleans has convicted the owner of a health care company and a doctor for their roles in a $34 million Medicare fraud scheme that operated over seven years in New Orleans and surrounding communities, the Department of Justice said.
Elaine Davis, 59, and Dr. Pramela Ganji, 66, both of New Orleans, were each convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of health care fraud Thursday after an eight-day trial before U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt. Davis and Ganji will be sentenced July 6.
Evidence presented at the trial showed that Davis owned and controlled the operations of Christian Home Health Care Inc., and Davis and Ganji caused the company to bill Medicare for home health care services that were not needed or not provided, the government said.
It said Davis paid employees to recruit new patients from communities in and around New Orleans and Hammond. Christian Home Health Care then sent the new patients’ Medicare information to doctors, including Ganji, to obtain their signatures to certify that the patients qualified to receive home health care services, which trial evidence showed they did not qualify for or need.
Trial evidence showed that Ganji often never saw the patients and that the false certifications allowed Davis and Christian Home Health Care to bill Medicare for home health services and to conceal that the services were unnecessary. From 2007 through June 2015, the company submitted more than $34.4 million in claims to Medicare, a large number of which were fraudulent, the government said. Medicare paid Christian approximately $29.6 million on these claims.
Davis was found not guilty of three additional counts of health care fraud, and Ganji was found not guilty of one additional count of health care fraud. Dr. Godwin Ogbuokiri was acquitted of all charges.
Since it began in March 2007, the Justice Department’s Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,300 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $7 billion, the government said.