Saturday, September 30, 2023
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Fraudulent Pastor Will Roll Into Prison

WASHINGTON (CN) - A Los Angeles-area pastor was sentenced to 87 months in prison and ordered to pay $5.8 million in restitution for fraudulently billing Medicare for power wheelchairs.

Charles Agbu, 58, pleaded guilty in December 2012 to conspiring to provide power wheelchairs to Medicare beneficiaries from his family-run durable medical equipment company, Bonfee.

Running the scam with his daughter from an office in Carson, Calif., Agbu submitted more than $11 million in false claims to Medicare while he was pastor at Pilgrim Congregational Church in South Central Los Angeles, the Department of Justice said in a statement.

Though he charged Medicare about $6,000 per power wheelchair, prosecutors said he bought them wholesale for about $900 apiece. The patients had no medical need for the wheelchairs and sometimes never received them, prosecutors said.

Agbu paid patient recruiters and enlisted doctors to write fake prescriptions in furtherance of the scheme.

Co-defendant Alejandro Maciel, 43, of Huntington Park, was sentenced in September to 41 months in prison and ordered to pay $5.4 million in restitution.

Dr. Emmanuel Ayodele, 65, of Los Angeles, was sentenced to 37 months and ordered to pay $6.4 million in restitution.

A jury in July convicted Agbu's daughter, Obiageli Agbu, of nine counts of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and health care fraud. She awaits sentencing.

Two other co-conspirators, Dr. Juan Van Putten and Candelaria Estrada, pleaded guilty to Medicare fraud and are awaiting sentencing, prosecutors said.

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