|TRENTON – Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor announced today that an Essex County pediatrician has been sentenced to three years in state prison for submitting fraudulent claims to the Medicaid Program through which she falsely billed for working 24 hours or more a day.
Ibilola Ighama-Amegor, 55, whose Quality Pediatrix practice is located in Newark, must also pay $216,000 in restitution under a sentence handed down by Superior Court Judge Michael Petrolle in Newark on Friday.
Following a five-week jury trial in June, a jury found Amegor guilty of 48 counts of health care claims fraud and one count of Medicaid fraud, all in the third degree. Amegor was acquitted of second-degree theft by deception.
Deputy Attorneys General Crystal Callahan and Dennis Kwasnik tried the case for the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
“Dr. Amegor used her medical degree as a license to steal from a program that pays for medical care for the elderly and those who can’t afford health insurance,” said Attorney General Porrino. “She doesn’t belong in the medical profession, she belongs in prison, which is right where she’s going.”
“Doctors who file false insurance claims undermine the integrity of a system that depends on the trustworthiness of licensed professionals,” said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Christopher Iu. “Dr. Amegor’s sentence sends a powerful message that medical professionals who commit insurance fraud will be held accountable for their greed.”
At trial, the state presented testimony that Amegor submitted bills for 24 hours or more of work on 48 dates of service between April 30, 2008 and May 16, 2011. An investigation by the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor determined that Amegor’s practice was only open for approximately eight hours per day, three days a week.
Deputy Attorneys General Callahan and Kwasnik were assisted at trial by Detectives Janet Amberg and Janet Thai. Detective Kylie Mattis, analyst Elizabeth O’Brien, Detective Ron Allen, Detective Laura Parisi, and Senior Management Assistant B’leia Williams all testified at trial. The investigation was coordinated by Detectives Kylie Mattis and Laura Catizone, and analyst Elizabeth O’Brien. Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Christopher Iu thanked the Medicaid Fraud Division within the State Comptroller’s Office and the Special Investigations Unit at Anthem (formerly Amerigroup) for referring the matter to the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Iu noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.
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