A US-based Ghanaian surgeon, Dr Moses deGraft-Johnson has pleaded guilty to 56 counts of health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
It is noteworthy that this is the same surgeon who saved popular American rapper, 50 Cent’s life after he was shot nine times.
deGraft-Johnson, 46, owned and operated Thorvasc PA, a Florida corporation doing business as the Heart and Vascular Institute of North Florida (HVINF). HVINF was a physician’s office and outpatient catheterization laboratory located in Tallahassee.
As part of his plea, deGraft-Johnson, a dual citizen of the United States and Ghana, acknowledged engaging in a wide-ranging and consistent pattern of performing two invasive diagnostic angiography procedures – one on each leg – on hundreds of his patients, whether medically indicated or not.
When his patients returned for follow-up office visits, deGraft-Johnson submitted fraudulent claims to their insurance companies stating he performed athrectomies during the appointments.
Using this scheme, deGraft-Johnson admits he falsely claimed to have performed over 3,000 of these surgical procedures to clear blockages in arteries in as many as 845 of his patients’ legs.
A US Justice Department statement said ongoing investigation and analysis have determined that deGraft-Johnson “fraudulently obtained at least $29 million – and very likely more”.
“The United States is aggressively pursuing all of deGraft-Johnson’s forfeitable assets in the U.S. and overseas, including luxury vehicles; jewelry; homes in Manhattan, Southampton, New York, Miami, and the Houston area; and more than $1 million in cash,” the statement said.
The conspiracy and health care fraud charges each have a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, and a maximum fine equal to twice the value of the loss to the health care benefit program.
The aggravated identity theft charge has a mandatory sentence of 2 years of imprisonment, which must be consecutive to any other sentence, and a maximum fine of $250,000. deGraft-Johnson’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 8, 2021, at the United States District Court in Tallahassee.