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Federal Government
Fayetteville Men Indicted For Arson Of Fayetteville Market House PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 24 June 2020 13:27

A federal grand jury returned indictments today charging two Fayetteville men with the arson of the City of Fayetteville’s Market House, a National Historic Landmark.

According to the indictments, Charles Anthony Pittman, 32, and Andrew Salvarani Garcia-Smith, 32, took part in the burning of the Market House after the peaceful protests following the death of George Floyd turned violent.

Several local news outlets filmed Pittman carrying around a red gasoline container on the second story of the Market House.  Pittman proceeded to pour the gasoline throughout the second story of the Market House, which was then set on fire.  Prior to any protests, Pittman posted a video on social media discussing his plans to bring the Market House down.

Authorities identified Garcia-Smith after he reported to a local hospital with several burn injuries as a result his actions.  Garcia-Smith threw a bottle of burning liquid into the Market House.  As he did so, the burning liquid spilled back onto him—setting Garcia-Smith’s hair and clothes ablaze.  A social media video of the incident went viral, as several news outlets showed Garcia-Smith running down the steps of the Market House engulfed in flames.  

Pittman and Garcia-Smith are each charged with the malicious burning of a building owned or possessed by an entity receiving Federal assistance. If convicted, both Pittman and Garcia-Smith face mandatory minimum sentences of 7 years in prison. 

Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Fayetteville Police Department are investigating the case and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chad Rhoades and J.D. Koesters are prosecuting the case.

 
Wake Forest Man Pleads Guilty To Embezzlement At Credit Union PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 24 June 2020 13:23

A Wake Forest man pleaded guilty today to theft and embezzlement from a credit union.

According to court documents, Johnnie Earl Harrell, 47, served as branch manager of a credit union located in Zebulon, NC.  From 2008 to 2019, Harrell exploited his position to steal and embezzle at least $645,000 in funds belonging to the credit union and its customers. Among Harrell’s victims were individuals convinced by Harrell to rollover existing retirement accounts into annuities.  Harrell never purchased the annuities, but instead converted the funds to personal use.  Harrell prepared fraudulent annuity account statements that were periodically presented to victims to preclude detection of the theft.

Harrell pleaded guilty to theft and embezzlement from a credit union and faces up to thirty years in prison when he is sentenced during the court’s November or December term.

Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Jones accepted the plea. The United States Department of Homeland Security, the North Carolina Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations, and the Zebulon Police Department are investigating the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Toby Lathan is prosecuting the case.

 

 
Dunn Physician Agrees To $8.8 Million Settlement For Allegedly False Medicare and Medicaid Claims PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Friday, 29 May 2020 14:30

Dr. Ibrahim Oudeh, his wife Teresa Sloan-Oudeh, and Dr. Oudeh’s medical practice agreed to relinquish approximately $3,300,000 worth of assets and further agreed to a conditional consent judgment in the amount of $5,500,000 to settle civil False Claims Act liability for allegedly false Medicare and Medicaid claims.

 

The United States and the State of North Carolina alleged that Dr. Oudeh, Ms. Sloan-Oudeh, and the practice were liable for more than 40,000 fraudulent claims that were systematically submitted to Medicare and Medicaid between 2010 and 2017. 

 

Specifically, the Governments argued that Defendants falsely obtained approximately $1,900,000 from Medicare for over 37,000 diagnostic tests, an astronomical number of tests for a solo practitioner in a small North Carolina town.  Defendants profited handsomely from them.  They allegedly short-changed the outside physicians who interpreted those tests by paying them less than the practice’s Medicare reimbursement, and then pocketed the difference, all in violation of the federal Anti-Markup Rule.  To boot, the Governments asserted that the vast majority of the more-than-37,000 tests were medically unnecessary. 

 

The Governments also alleged that Defendants falsely billed for office visits.  In some of those instances, Defendants billed more than twenty-four hours’ worth of supposed visits with one physician in a single day.  In others, the evidence showed that the visits were for medication refills rather than for the complex, labor-intensive examinations that Defendants claimed.  Either way, the Governments alleged that Defendants could not have provided the level of patient care for which they sought reimbursement.

 

Finally, the Governments contended that Defendants falsely obtained approximately $640,000 from Medicare and Medicaid after Dr. Oudeh certified almost 4,300 nerve-conduction studies that, by his own admission, he was unqualified to interpret.  Dr. Oudeh also admitted to the Governments that he used the nerve-conduction studies as mere screening tools, in direct contravention of Medicare and Medicaid billing requirements.

 

“The United States takes healthcare fraud very seriously,” said U.S. Attorney Higdon.  “Federal healthcare programs are designed to help patients in need.  They are not boundless coffers that entrepreneurial fraudsters like the Oudehs can pilfer to maximize their fortunes.  Our office will continue to dedicate resources to rooting out and pursuing those who would rob American taxpayers to satiate their greed.  Such abuse will not be tolerated.”

 

This case is not Dr. Oudeh’s first run-in with government authorities.  The North Carolina Medical Board previously entered a consent decree finding that Dr. Oudeh’s medical recordkeeping was deficient and revoking his ability to prescribe certain controlled substances.

 

The federal and North Carolina False Claims Acts mandate that the Governments recover triple the money falsely obtained, plus substantial civil penalties for each false claim submitted.

 

It should be noted that the claims resolved by settlement here are allegations only, and that there has been no judicial determination or admission of liability.

 

This matter was handled between the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina and the Medicaid Investigations Division of the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office (“MID”), including Special Agents with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and MID Financial Investigators.  Assistant United States Attorneys Neal Fowler and John Harris represented the United States.  Special Deputy Attorney General Lareena Phillips, who also serves as a Special Assistant United States Attorney, represented the United States and the State of North Carolina.

 

***

 
NC Hospitals Get $391 Million In Federal COVID-19 Relief PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Friday, 29 May 2020 13:29

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will award more than $391 million to North Carolina health care providers who provided care for COVID-19 patients, including high-impact hospitals, rural providers, and those treating low-income and uninsured patients. The allocation for rural providers includes rural acute care general hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), and Community Health Centers located in rural areas.

Senator Tillis previously announced more than $919 million in grants to health care providers and health systems in North Carolina and $34 million in grants to North Carolina health care centers to assist efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The funding comes from the CARES Act, legislation supported by Senator Tillis.

“As our hospitals and frontline workers continue their heroic care for COVID-19 patients, we must ensure they have the proper resources to provide for every North Carolinian,” said Senator Tillis. “Hospitals have struggled financially with the delay of elective surgeries and increased costs due to COVID response, and this crucial funding will help provide our hospitals with more resources to ensure the safety of all patients.”

Breakdown of additional funding in North Carolina:

  • High-impact hospitals: $79,025,656
  • Hospitals treating low-income and uninsured patients:$29,992,087
  • Rural providers: $282,581,596
 
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