Crooked Wheelchair Dealer Gets Six Years

     HOUSTON (CN) – A Nigerian medical equipment dealer was sentenced to six years in federal prison for sending $1.1 million in phony claims to Medicare and Medicaid.
     Abdul Waheed Alex Shittu, 55, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Nigeria, also was ordered to pay $598,000 in restitution, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in a statement announcing the sentence.
     Shittu owned S&S Medical Supply Etc. Stafford, Texas. He admitted in November 2012 that he billed Medicare and Medicaid for durable medical equipment he did not deliver and delivered some to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries he knew did not want or need it, prosecutors said.
     “Shittu also admitted he gave his billing agent the incorrect coding information so he would receive more money from Medicare and Medicaid for each DME claim,” prosecutors said in the statement. “Between Dec. 1, 2008, and Sept. 30, 2009, Shittu submitted approximately $1,154,025 in fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid and received $597,865.19 for those claims.
     “The defendant also admitted that he began purchasing physician orders for durable medical equipment (DME), including wrist, back, foot, ankle, knee, elbow and shoulder braces as well as wheelchairs around Dec. 1, 2008, and that he purchased the orders from at least five recruiters for $200 – $300 per order. The physicians whose names were on the orders had not seen or treated by the patients.”
     Shittu’s attorney sought a lighter sentence “because he committed the crime due to a tough economic climate,” and had no criminal history, the U.S. attorney said.
     But U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison didn’t buy it.
     Judge Ellison let Shittu remain free on bond, to surrender to a federal prison to be determined.

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