Dr. Patrick Ifediba, 60, and his sister, Ngozi Ozuligbo, were convicted for health care fraud, unlawful drug distribution, and money laundering revolving around a massive scheme that garnered nearly $8 million in fraudulent funds.
According to the Department of Justice, Ifediba was operating as a doctor of internal medicine and the owner of Care Complete Medical Clinic (CCMC). Evidence presented at trial showed that Ifediba used the facility as a “pill mill”, regularly prescribing a range of highly addictive opioids with the goal of creating repeat office visits for their renewal. The trial found that Ifediba not only overprescribed the drugs intentionally but also offered dangerous combinations of the drugs. One of these combinations was referred to as “the holy trinity” and was known for creating a high similar to that of heroin. The high risk of overdose using this cocktail was well-known, yet continued to be prescribed by Ifediba routinely.
In total, 85% of Ifediba’s patients were written prescriptions for opioids, despite the fact that Ifediba was not a pain specialist and CCMC was not operating as a pain management facility.
Ifediba and Ozuligbo were also discovered to have been operating an allergy test scheme that resulted in millions of stolen funds from Medicare and numerous private health insurance companies. Neither Ifediba or Ozuligbo had previous experience in the allergy testing space, yet demanded that their patients partake in allergy tests and be prescribed unnecessary allergy prescriptions. When patients were unwilling to take the allergy tests, Ifediba would threaten to withhold their opioid prescriptions. Whether or not the allergy tests came back positive or negative, Ifediba would then order allergy therapy treatments for all of the patients.
Through their allergy test scheme, Ifediba and Ozuligbo were able to increase the revenue of the facility and bill health insurance organizations for the related tests and treatments. One private insurer was billed a total of $3 million over the course of two-and-a-half years. Ifediba soon became the agency’s top biller in the state of Alabama, with their second highest biller being a large allergy and asthma center.
Additionally, the trial documents show that Ifediba held numerous bank accounts tied to various shell corporations that he used to hide the stolen funds. These accounts were opened in the names of various family members to hide Ifediba’s control of the funds. Out of a total of $7.8 million that resulted from the allergy test scheme, most of the funds were utilized for Ifediba’s personal use. According to the Department of Justice, Ifediba purchased a condominium and invested the money in a variety of accounts.
For the crimes committed out of CCMC, Ifediba faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to commit health care fraud, 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for maintaining a drug-involved premises, 20 years in prison and $250,000 for money laundering, and additional penalties.
The FBI and DEA joined forces to investigate this case as part of an operation called the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.
To learn more about this case or other instances of health care fraud, money laundering, or unlawful drug distribution, visit the Jeff Newman Law Whistleblower Help Center and blog!