Attorney General Cuomo Announces Jail Time For Nyc Psychiatrist Who Defrauded Medicaid
NEW YORK, N.Y. (December 22, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the felony guilty pleas of Dr. Godfrey Mbonu, a psychiatrist, and his corporate medical group Sisck Inc., to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class “C” felony. Mbonu must pay more than $214,000 in restitution to the state and faces up to five to fifteen years in prison.
Mbonu’s plea comes after an extended investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU). The MFCU investigation revealed that from 2003 to 2009, Mbonu individually and through his corporation, Sisck Inc., located at 914-A Columbus Avenue in New York City, systematically submitted hundreds of claims to New York State’s Medicaid program for medical services that he or his medical group never provided.
“Records show this doctor fraudulently billed Medicaid hundreds of times for care that was never provided,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “He tried to game the system, was caught, and is now going to jail. My office will not tolerate people using the Medicaid system for personal gain.”
Records obtained by MFCU showed that Mbonu submitted claims to Medicaid that indicated that he performed psychotherapy sessions in his New York office when he was actually traveling in Nigeria. An extensive audit of patient records revealed that Mbonu also claimed to have performed in-office psychotherapy sessions when the patient listed in the claim was actually in the hospital. MFCU also discovered that to double his payment from Medicaid, Mbonu billed Medicaid at the higher psychiatrist rate when psychotherapy sessions were performed by a clinical social worker.
At his plea in New York County Supreme Court, Mbonu admitted to Acting Supreme Court Justice Carol Berkman that from 2003 to 2009 he intended to defraud Medicaid. As part of his plea, the Attorney General required that Mbonu pay $214,156.90 in restitution to the state. If Mbonu fails to pays the full restitution by the time of his sentence on April 28, 2010, the court can sentence him to a maximum of five to fifteen years in state prison. If Mbonu pays the restitution in full, he will be permitted to withdraw his plea to the C felony and plead guilty to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, and receive a sentence of one year in jail.
Special Assistant Attorney General Vernitta N. Chambers handled the case under the supervision of Deputy Regional Director Thomas O’Hanlon, with the assistance of Special Investigator Thomas Dowd and Associate Special Auditor Investigators David Verhey and Andrea Ammirabile.