OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Two medical equipment supply company owners and an associate were sentenced in federal court in Oakland earlier this week to prison terms for their roles in a $1.6 million Medicare fraud concerning phony prescriptions for power wheelchairs.
Patrick Sogbein, 61, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White on Wednesday to 12 years in prison. His wife, Adebola Adebimpe, 47, received a term of four years and three months.
Sogbein and Adebimpe, of Santa Clarita in Los Angeles County, each owned a medical supply company. They were convicted in a trial in White’s court in December of health fraud conspiracy and health fraud in a scheme in which a San Francisco doctor, Edna Calaustro, wrote bogus prescriptions for power wheelchairs.
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said trial evidence showed they were paid more than $1.6 million for fraudulent Medicare claims for 400 wheelchairs between 2006 and 2011.
A third defendant, Eduardo Abad, of San Francisco, who recruited patients in the city, was also convicted of conspiracy and fraud. He was sentenced by White to one year and one day in prison.
Calaustro, 71, and another recruiter, Mele Saavedra, 49, both of San Francisco, separately pleaded guilty last fall to conspiracy and health care fraud charges. They will be sentenced by White on Aug. 27.
Calaustro formerly worked at the Health Haven Medical Clinic on Mission Street in San Francisco.
Haag said Abad and Saavedra recruited patients at locations in the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods, including a fast food restaurant at the Powell Street cable car turnaround and a Tenderloin neighborhood senior center.
After the patients were identified, Calaustro and one of the recruiters went to their homes with a portable copy machine, copied their Medicare cards, and conducted sham examinations for the required Medicare paperwork, Haag said.
Sogbein paid Calaustro $100 for each phony prescription and gave Abad $100 and Saavedra $50 for each patient they recruited, Haag said.
At Wednesday’s sentencing, White also ordered Sogbein and Adebimpe to pay restitution of $1,577,426 and $1,019,937, respectively, to Medicare and ordered Abad to pay $100,000 in restitution.
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