HOUSTON — Two people have been sentenced to federal prison following their convictions for conspiracy to commit and health care fraud, U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery has announced.
A federal jury convicted Francis Ekene, 71, of Sugar Land, on all counts after a three-day trial.
Today, US District Judge Sim Lake imposed a sentence of 120 months in prison which will be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. In handing down the prison sentence, Judge Lake noted that despite his health issues, it was important for him to serve his sentence.
Alfred Olotin Alatan, 63, formerly of Houston and now residing in Fulshear, was also convicted at trial. He had already been sentenced to 120 months in prison.
Alatan owned Colony Home Health Services, while Ekene owned Milten Medical Clinic, both Houston-based businesses.
At trial, the jury heard that Alatan had paid recruiters to provide information about patients to be billed for home health services, whether they needed it or not. The beneficiaries testified at trial and admitted that they did not need home health services at the time the health service providers billed them.
Additional testimony revealed that a doctor signed care plan forms at the Milton clinic when patients were not actually in his care.
Former employees Susana Bermudez and Rita Kpotie Smith also testified. Bermudez admitted that she and Smith operated the two clinics and that Alatan was the head of the program. Alatan and Ekene would consult with Bermudez and Smith who led them and helped them implement the project within the two offices.
At trial, the defense attempted to convince the jury that they were not involved in day-to-day operations and did not know the services provided were unnecessary and fraudulent.
Alatan and Ekene were allowed to remain on bail and voluntarily surrender to a US Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Bermudez and Smith, both 55 and from Houston, previously pleaded guilty to their roles as co-conspirators in the scheme. Bermudez is currently serving 30 months in federal prison, while Smith is serving a 60-month sentence.
The Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation with the assistance of the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tina Ansari and Grace Murphy pursued the case with paralegal Judith Cardona.