Lansing, Michigan – October 27, 2016 – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that Dr. Chidozie Ononuju, 57, of Saginaw, was charged and pleaded guilty to three felony counts of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim, for fraudulent Medicaid billings.
“Doctors are obligated and expected to bill their work honestly but this man broke that trust for personal financial gain,” said Schuette. “There are consequences for breaking the law and violating taxpayer trust.”
Ononuju was arraigned and pled guilty to all three charges on October 27, 2016 before Judge Richard Ball in the 54-B District Court in East Lansing. Each charge is punishable by up to 4 years and/or $50,000.00.
He was released on a personal recognizance bond of $10,000. Ononuju had to surrender his passport as a condition of bond. He is scheduled to be sentenced December 7, 2016 at 9 a.m. before Judge Rosemarie Aquilina in the 33rd Circuit Court in Lansing.
As a condition of his guilty plea, Ononuju will pay $407,340.12 restitution to the Medicaid program and will voluntarily relinquish his Drug Enforcement Agency number at the time of sentencing. Relinquishing this means Ononuju is no longer able to write prescriptions for any controlled substances.
Ononuju is now reportedly practicing medicine in Georgia.
The Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud Division first received a complaint alleging that Ononuju, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, was filing fraudulent claims with the Medicaid program from 2010- 2015.
The resulting investigation revealed that Ononuju engaged in a pattern of fraudulent Medicaid billing.
The most common schemes involved:
- Submitting claims for unnecessary pregnancy tests (for female patients who had prior hysterectomies or male patients);
- Requiring drug screens for all patients at all visits (in violation of Medicaid policy);
- Billing for preventive medicine visits in conjunction with other visits on the same date of service (in violation of Medicaid policy and medical coding instructions); and
- Billing for Behavior Change Intervention visits (i.e. intensive smoking and tobacco use cessation counseling visit) where neither the patient charts nor patient interviews warranted such a claim.
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