On Thursday, Godwin Oriakhi was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison for defrauding the government of over $17 million in Medicare and Medicaid payments.
Oriakhi was the owner of five home health care clinics throughout Houston, ostensibly for the in-home care of people with developmental disabilities and those requiring help with medical needs or everyday tasks.
Accorinding to reports, he and the people who helped run his clinics, several of whom were charged, as well, submitted claims for patients who did not need in home care and never got it.
As part of his defense, his lawyer painted the 61-year-old as a victim of circumstance, saying he started the scheme to help pay for the expenses of his family and his business, eventually getting swept up in something he couldn’t control:
“Like so many Medicare cases we see in federal courts throughout the United States, it starts out as a well-meaning business endeavor, and, at some point, the money involved in these cases becomes intoxicating and people lose perspective and fail to exercise sound judgment,” his lawyer Sean Ryan Buckley said during the trial.
Oriakhi paid recruiters a kickback fee for bringing in new patients to keep the scam going.
One of them, Jermaine Doleman, admitted to roping hundreds of people into the scheme when he pled guilty before the court.