Feds tell judge Florida surgeon ‘stole millions from health insurers with fake surgeries to fund his political ambitions in his native country of Ghana’
Dr Moses deGraft-Johnson is charged for $26million in healthcare fraud based, on bogus billing
A 58-count federal indictment accuses the vascular surgeon of falsely billing insurers, including Medicare and Medicaid, for work he did not actually perform
Investigators claim up to 90 percent of the more than 3,600 surgeries that the Tallahassee, Florida based practice billed over the last five years were fraudulent
Prosecutors told judge they believe the doctor, who migrated to US from Ghana, used the money to fund his goal of becoming president of Ghana
Investigators allege deGraft in that period made at least $1.8million in international wire transfers to entities and associates in Ghana
Judge accepted prosecution argument that Dr deGraft poses a flight risk and remanded him in police custody until his next court appearance scheduled for March 23
In early February, a federal grand jury unsealed a 58-count indictment alleging that Dr Moses deGraft-Johnson falsely billed insurers, including Medicare and Medicaid, for work he did not actually perform.
Investigators within the federal Department of Health and Human Services said that deGraft-Johnson’s practice claimed to have performed over a five-year span, more than 3,600 atherectomies, a minimally invasive procedure that clears potentially dangerous buildup in arteries.
Authorities said the doctor’s practice in Tallahassee, Florida, also filed claims for angioplasties that were never performed.
Dr. deGraft-Johnson moved to US from Ghana. In court documents filed by the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida, prosecutors argued to keep the doctor in custody, asserting that he was a flight risk because his ‘ultimate long-term professional goal’ was to one day become the president of Ghana.
US Magistrate Judge Charles Stampelos agreed with the prosecution argument and ordered deGraft-Johnson held until trial, set for March 23.
Investigators said they looked into the doctor’s bank accounts and discovered he made at least $1.8million in international wire transfers to entities and associates in Ghana.
Authorities said one of the doctor’s relatives served as vice president of the West African country in the 1980s.
‘He’s a wonderful doctor, and I will defend him vigorously,’ said William Bubsey, the attorney who represented deGraft-Johnson [left], during Friday’s detention hearings.
Bubsey disputed the government’s allegations, saying that any money deGraft-Johnson might have sent overseas was meant to help the impoverished people of Ghana and not to enrich himself.
Indicted along deGraft-Johnson was Kimberly Austin, who prosecutors said served as the office manager of the Heart and Vascular Institute of Northern Florida owned and operated by deGraft-Johnson.
Together, they poached patients from a local hospital in which deGraft-Johnson had access to medical records, according to the government.
‘He used his access to the hospital’s daily census to poach patients for his scheme to defraud, instructing his staff to cold call patients from the hospital so that he could use their presence to fraudulently bill health care programs,’ prosecutors said in court documents.
In some cases, prosecutors said, deGraft-Johnson was not even in the country when some of the procedures were supposed to have been performed.
deGraft’s current defense attorney William Bubsey said it was still uncertain who will represent his client in the upcoming trial because the doctor does not have access to his assets.William