Corporate Compliance

Two Houston residents file false claims for hurricane damaged DME

Compliance Monitor, April 21, 2010

A federal jury convicted two Houston residents of Medicare fraud conspiracy involving durable medical equipment (DME), according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release.

Helen Etinfoh, 50, owned and operated Luant & Odera Inc., a DME company that she and other co-conspirators used to submit false claims to Medicare for unnecessary DME equipment. Paula Whitfield, 43, recruited Medicare beneficiaries to provide their names to the company in return for kickbacks.

According to the DOJ, Luant used the names to bill Medicare for replacement wheelchairs that were damaged or lost due to hurricanes. The hurricanes did not damage older wheelchairs, and some beneficiaries testified that they do not require a wheelchair.

Etinfoh’s five convictions and Whitfield’s four, each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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