Guilty Plea in Fraudulent Wheelchair Billings Case in Texas and La.

May 3, 2006

The owner of a Houston, Texas-based medical company has pleaded guilty to a charge stemming from an investigation of $3.3 million in Medicare claims for wheelchairs and scooters.

Federal prosecutors said Christie O. Udoh’s company, Legend Medical Services, recruited Medicare recipients in Texas and southern Louisiana to bill the government for motorized wheelchairs and scooters for patients who did not need the devices.

Prosecutors alleged that doctors were paid to falsify paperwork to secure Medicare payments and that the company often billed Medicare for wheelchairs while providing less-expensive scooters.

Udoh’s plea came as jury selection began the trial of her and her husband, Obot Nelson Udoh. Christie Udoh pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of not reporting a felony. She said she was not initially aware of the alleged scheme.

Obot Udoh’s trial on fraud charges was scheduled to resume.

Legend Medical Services employed two recruiters – Veronda S. Warfield and her mother, Pearlie Warfield, both of Houston – to solicit customers in southern Louisiana. The women pleaded guilty last year and admitted being paid $200 for each new client they signed up. They are awaiting sentencing.

Information from: The Advocate,

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