Damn!! Not again. More negative news for Nigerians. When United Airlines Flight 143 hit Bush Intercontinental’s tarmac at 5:18 a.m., the Lagos overnighter came with a long-sought passenger: a handcuffed Nigerian fugitive who absconded from Houston days after his boss and co-workers were indicted in a $45 million Medicare scam.
The extradition of Godwin Chiedo Nzeocha marked a beguiling chapter in the case of a bogus Houston physical therapy clinic called City Nursing Services and accusations of Medicare fraud, money laundering and luxury living with American tax dollars.
Indictments of multiple characters in the scheme include allegations of using proceeds from the fraud to ship money and vehicles – including 80 18-wheelers – from Houston to Nigeria and stashing cash in Nigerian bank accounts. More than $831,000 sits idle in a Bank of America account in the United States.
Nzeocha’s unusual return to Houston in June punctuates the intricate connections between him and Nigerian associates who have been arrested, convicted, sentenced or sent to prison in a conspiracy to steal from the nation’s largest insurer for the elderly and the disabled.
All are accused of conspiring to pay recruiters to find patients, who also were paid to fill out bogus or blank claims forms submitted to Medicare for treatment never delivered.
After prodding from U.S. prosecutors, Nzeocha was arrested by Nigerian police at the home he shared with his parents in Lagos, having traced him through the address he used when he opened the Nigerian accounts. His attorney, Edmond O’Suji says there’s no proof, despite his name on the account, that they belong to his client.
“He said they’re (accounts) not his,” the defense attorney said.
Pamela Ise, another player who supposedly helped orchestrate phony billing claims, also is a fugitive and believed to be in Nigeria.