A Medical Device Daily

A federal jury in Los Angeles has convicted the owner and operator of Pacific City Group (Los Angeles), a durable medical equipment company, of defrauding the Medicare program, according to Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Matthew Friedrich and U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Thomas O'Brien.

After a one-week trial in federal court, the jury found Leonard Uchenna Nwafor guilty on all charged counts, including conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and healthcare fraud. U.S. District Judge John Walter of the Central District of California set Nwafor's sentencing for Dec. 1, 2008. Nwafor also faces separate federal mail fraud charges for which a trial date has not yet been set.

Nwafor billed Medicare $1,109,438 through Pacific City and was paid $526,243 as a result of that billing. Evidence at trial revealed that nearly all of these bills were for medically unnecessary motorized wheelchairs and wheelchair accessories.

At trial, elderly and disabled Medicare beneficiaries testified that they were encouraged to turn over their Medicare numbers and other personal identifying information in exchange for a promised free motorized wheelchair.