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U.S. Attorney Establishes New Health Care Fraud Unit To Enhance Effor…

U.S. Attorney Establishes New Health Care Fraud Unit To Enhance Efforts To Criminally Prosecute Health Care Fraud In Southern California

3 February 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – The owner of a Long Beach medical supply business has been arrested on a federal fraud charge for allegedly bilking Medicare out of millions of dollars by billing the federal insurance program for power wheelchairs, hospital beds and other medical equipment that doctors never prescribed and seniors never received.

Atim Okorn, a 49-year-old resident of Chino Hills, who owns Pacific Care Medical Supply, was arrested yesterday morning at his office. Special Agents with the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Okorn, who made his initial court appearance late yesterday before United States Magistrate Judge Victor Kenton. Magistrate Judge Kenton ordered Okorn detained pending a further hearing on February 8.

Okorn is charged with health care fraud in a 50-page criminal complaint that outlines a five-year scheme in which Okorn allegedly defrauded Medicare out of more than $2.4 million. The complaint alleges that Okorn individually and later through his company filed claims with Medicare in which they purported to supply Medicare patients with medical equipment and supplies prescribed by the patients’ doctors. From approximately October 1999 through November 2004, Pacific and Okorn received payments totaling approximately $2.4 million from Medicare for allegedly fraudulent claims for equipment and supplies.

United States Attorney Debra W. Yang, who serves on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee Working Group on Health Care Fraud, stated: “I have formed a new criminal unit that is dedicated to the prosecution of health care fraud, which is unfortunately one of the big ‘growth areas’ of crime in our district. The arrest of Mr. Okorn is just the opening salvo in our stepped-up efforts to tackle health care fraud in Southern California – one of the hot spots in the country for this type of fraud. There are dedicated HHS-OIG agents and FBI agents whose sole job is to help fight health care fraud. All types of health care fraud – meaning, public and private victims – will be within the purview of this new prosecution unit.”

The crime of health care fraud carries a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

“When fraud works its way into our health care system, it is poisonous to both patients and taxpayers,” said Vicky Roberts, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s Los Angeles Regional Investigations Office. “I look forward to working with the U.S. Attorney in Central California’s new healthcare anti-fraud unit to purge that poison.”

Richard Garcia, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles, stated: “The FBI is pleased with the success of our efforts to curtail health care fraud by arresting individuals such as Okorn. We will continue to work jointly with Health and Human Services and the United States Attorney’s Office to combat this type of crime, which is a significant issue in Southern California.”

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The federal criminal investigation began as a result of an audit conducted by CIGNA, the government contractor that administers Medicare’s payments in connection with the provision of prescription medical equipment.

British MP George Galloway and his opponent the Daily Telegraph will leave no stone unturned to sort out what could be a spectacular libel case.