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Houston-area Man Indicted for Health Care Fraud in Probe by State and Federal Authorities

Texas Business reports: HOUSTON—Abdul Waheed Alex Shittu, 54, a naturalized United States citizen from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has been charged in a 21-count indictment with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced.

Shittu was arrested this morning and will make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy later today. The United States is expected to seek detention of Shittu pending further criminal proceedings.

The sealed indictment was returned July 19, 2012, and unsealed upon his arrest.

According to the indictment, between Dec. 1, 2008, and Sept. 30, 2009, Shittu - the owner of S & S Medical Supply Etc. in Stafford, Texas - engaged in a scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid. The indictment alleges Shittu purchased physician orders from recruiters and marketers that contained forged physician signatures. He allegedly submitted claims to Medicare and Medicaid for durable medical equipment (DME) and orthotic devices that were not delivered, not wanted and not needed by Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries and not based on orders written by physicians who saw and evaluated the beneficiaries.

The aggravated identity theft charges are the result of the alleged unauthorized use of the National Provider Identification and Universal Provider Identification Numbers of at least four physicians to submit claims to Medicare. The wire fraud charges stem from the actual electronic filing of the claims and receipt of electronic payments from Medicare, according to the indictment. During the alleged conspiracy, Shittu submitted approximately $1,267,882.50 in fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid and received $414,516.61 for those claims.

The possible punishments upon conviction for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and health care fraud are up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, while a conviction for wire fraud carries a possible punishment of up to 20 years in prison. If convicted of aggravated identity theft, Shittu faces an additional possible two-year mandatory minimum imprisonment term which must be served consecutively to any term of imprisonment imposed for the underlying crime.

The investigation is the result of a joint investigation conducted by agents from the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General and the Attorney General’s Office – Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Julie Redlinger is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.

A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.