The co-owner of a Houston home health agency was sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence for his role in a $13 million Medicare fraud scheme and for filing false tax returns.
U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon of the Southern District of Texas ordered Ebong Tilong, 53, to spend 80 years behind bars, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Tilong pleaded guilty in November of 2016 to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, three counts of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks, three counts of payment and receipt of health care kickbacks, and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of filing fraudulent tax returns in June.
Tilong and others conspired to defraud Medicare by submitting over $10 million in false and fraudulent claims for home health services to Medicare through Fiango Home Healthcare, which was owned by Tilong and his wife, Marie Neba, 53, according to the DOJ. Marie Neba was sentenced 75 years in prison for her role in the scheme in August.
Using the money for these fraudulent claims, Tilong and his wife paid illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters for referring Medicare beneficiaries to Fiango; they also paid illegal kickbacks to beneficiaries for allowing Fiango to bill Mediare for services that were not medically necessary or not provided.
In addition, the duo falsified medical records to make it look like Medicare beneficiaries qualified for and received home health services. Tilong also tried to destroy evidence, blackmail a witness, and suborn perjury from witnesses, including a co-defendant while in the federal courthouse, according to the DOJ.
To date, three others have pleaded guilty or been convicted based on their roles in the fraudulent Medicare scheme at Fiango. Connie Ray Island, a former patient recruiter, was sentenced to 33 months in prison. Nirmal Mazumdar, M.D., the former medical director of Fiango, was sentenced to time served with three years of home confinement on Oct. 3. Daisy Carter, another former patient recruiter, is awaiting sentencing.
Written by Tim Regan