The owners of a Washington, D.C., home care agency have been found guilty of bilking the District of Columbia Medicaid program of more than $80 million.
On Nov. 12, a jury found Florence Bikundi, 52, and her husband Michael Bikundi, 63, guilty of a slew of charges, including health care fraud, Medicaid fraud, money laundering and additional charges stemming from the scheme, which lasted from August 2009 to February 2014, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Columbia. The couple owned a home care agency called Global Healthcare, Inc.
Evidence presented during the trial indicated that Florence Bikundi, a former nurse, was not authorized to participate in the Medicaid program and was fraudulently approved as a provider. She and Michael Bikundi subsequently led a conspiracy to bill Medicaid for services that were not provided. The couple recruited other people to take part in the scheme and made up fraudulent paperwork to conceal the illegal activity.
The massive fraud scheme stemmed from Florence Bikundi hiding her turbulent past.
Back in 1999, Florence Bikundi went by Florence Igwacho, her maiden name. The Virginia Board of Nursing revoked Florence Igwacho’s nursing license in August of that year. In March 2000, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General told Florence Igwacho in writing that she was excluded from participation in Medicaid, Medicare and all federal health care programs because of the revocation.
In June 2009, under the name Florence Bikundi, she went on to conceal the revocation of her nursing license and the Medicaid exclusion when she applied for a Medicaid provider number for Global Healthcare.
Then, between August 2009 and February 2014, Florence and her husband billed the D.C. Medicaid program for personal home health aide services that were never provided to Medicaid beneficiaries. Bogus time sheets, employment files and patient files were created, as well.
Global Healthcare generated increasing amounts of payments as the years went on, going from about $1.35 million in 2009 to $14.27 million in 2011 to $27.16 million in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Bikundis used the proceeds to support a high-end lifestyle, according to government evidence.
“The money they stole for their own benefit could and should have been used to help others who were truly in need,” said Channing D. Phillips, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, in a prepared statement. “Instead, they used the proceeds to finance a lavish lifestyle, including a million-dollar home, a $140,000 Land Rover, a $120,000 Porsche and a $75,000 Mercedes Benz.”
The Bikundis are scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 26, 2016. The charges involve statutory maximums of decades in jail. Along with prison terms, Florence and Michael Bikundi are subject to a forfeiture money judgment equal to the total proceeds they acquired from this scheme.
Seven others previously pled guilty to charges in the investigation, including Florence Bikundi’s two sisters and Florence Bikundi’s son.
Written by Mary Kate Nelson