In The Heart
Federal prosecutors charged a Florida vascular surgeon for allegedly bilking over $26 million dollars from health insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare, for unnecessary procedures.
Dr. Moses Degraft-Johnson ran the Heart and Vascular Institute of Norther Florida in Tallahasee. He was indicted for submitting false claims to health insurance agencies and using the funds for personal use - as well as for funding his political agenda in Ghana - a country in West Africa.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida motioned before the courts to keep the doctor in custody because he posed a flight risk. The Florida doctor had foriegn connections and long-term goal of becoming the President of Ghana and the means to flee the country if given the opportunity.
The U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles A. Stampelos agreed with the prosecuting attorney and ordered that Degraft-Johnson be held until his trial, which is set for March 23, 2020.
Red River Flowing Funds
Federal investigators within the Health and Human Services said that Degraft-Johnson claimed to have performed 3,600 atherectomies, a minimally invasive procedure that clears build-up in the arteries, within a 5 year period. Investigators also claim that one of the doctor's relatives served as the vice-president of Ghana in the 1980's.
Along with the doctor, prosecutors indicted Kimberly Austin, the office manager for the Heart and Vascular Institute in Northern Florida. Prosecutors claimed that the dual would poach patients from local hospitals in which Dr. Degraft-Johnson had access to medical records.
Doctor's Privileged Access
"He used his access to the hostpital's daily census to poach patients for his scheme to defraud, instructing his staff to cold call patients from hospitals so that he could use their presence to fraudulently bill health insurance programs" prosecutors said in court documents.
They further claimed that in some of the insurance claims, the doctor was not even in the country when the procedures were supposedly performed
Investigators said the doctor's bank accounts revealed at least $1.8 million dollars in international transfers to Ghana.
"He is a wonderful doctor, and I will defend him vigorously" said William Bubsey, said the attorney who represented Degraft-Johnson during his dentention hearing on last Friday.
He said he was unsure of who will represent the doctor during the trial phase of the court proceedings.
Prosecutors for the U.S. said they saw evidence that he had "been hard at work using the proceeds of fraud in the United States to establish an empire in a foreign country".
See story source on AP News