Sugar Land, TX

Fulshear and Sugar Land residents convicted of health care fraud

Covering Katy
The trial and sentencing took place at the Bob Casey Federal Courthouse in HoustonGoogle

HOUSTON (Covering Katy News) – A Fulshear man and a Sugar Land man will serve 10-year sentences for committing health care fraud.

Francis Ekene, 71, of Sugar Land, was sentenced this week, according to U.S. Attorney Jennifer Lowery. Alfred Olotin Alatan, 63, of Fulshear, was sentenced earlier. Alatan was considered the scheme leader.

For health reasons, Ekene asked for a lighter sentence, but Jude Sim Lake denied that request saying said it was vital for him to serve his punishment. Lake is an appointee of Republican President Ronald Reagan.

Alatan and Ekene operated health clinics in Houston.

At trial, the jury heard Alatan hired recruiters to supply patient information that could be used for the scheme. Additional testimony revealed a doctor had signed off on plan of care forms when patients were not actually under his care.

Former employees Susana Bermudez and Rita Kpotie Smith also testified. According to their testimony, Alatan and Ekene assisted in the scheme. However, the defense attempted to convince the jury that Alatan and Ekene were not involved in the daily operations and did not know the services were unnecessary and fraudulent.

Alatan and Ekene will remain free on bond until they're assigned to federal prisons to serve their sentences. Lowery says that will happen soon.

Bermudez and Smith, both 55, previously pleaded guilty to their roles as co-conspirators in the scheme. Bermudez is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence. Smith is serving a five-year sentence.

The Department of Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General investigated with the assistance of the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tina Ansari and Grace Murphy prosecuted the case, and paralegal Judith Cardona assisted.

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