|TRENTON – Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor today announced that an Essex County pediatrician was found guilty at trial of 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, was found guilty by an Essex County jury of 48 counts of health care claims fraud and one count of Medicaid fraud, all in the third degree. The panel acquitted Amegor of second-degree theft by deception. The verdict followed a five-week trial before Superior Court Judge Michael Petrolle in Newark.
Deputy Attorneys General Crystal Callahan and Dennis Kwasnik tried the case for the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000. Sentencing for Amegor is scheduled for July 31, 2017.
“Dr. Amegor dishonored her medical degree by falsely billing Medicaid over and over again for hours she did not work,” said Attorney General Porrino. “She callously put cash over care by defrauding a program that assists New Jersey residents who cannot afford health insurance or health care services.”
“Medicaid fraud costs taxpayers many millions of dollars each year and siphons money from health care programs and services that people depend on day in and day out,” said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Christopher Iu. “As this guilty verdict demonstrates, we will vigorously investigate and prosecute health care professionals who put their greed above the needs of vulnerable patients.”
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.
Jurors deliberated seven days before reaching a verdict on Wednesday.
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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