LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The former co-owner of a San Bernardino medical supply company was sentenced today to three years in federal prison for her role in a scheme to submit about $1.5 million in phony claims to Medicare.
Ontario resident Victoria Onyeabor -- co-owner with her husband of Fendih Medical Supply Inc. -- was also held jointly liable for almost $1 million in restitution and ordered to serve three years under supervised release after her release from prison.
``You should have gotten a more serious sentence,'' U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real told the 53-year-old defendant, who pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
According to prosecutors, Victoria and Godwin Onyeabor received prescriptions for medically unnecessary power wheelchairs from Dr. Sri J. ``Dr. J'' Wijegunaratne in return for kickbacks and used those prescriptions to submit fraudulent billing to the national health care program.
Godwin Onyeabor, Wijegunaratne and Heidi Morishita were convicted in April and sentenced to federal prison terms. The husband received four years and three months; Wijegunaratne got two years and three months; and Morishita was sentenced to two years behind bars.
During their trial in Los Angeles federal court, several Medicare beneficiaries testified that they were lured to medical clinics with the promise of free items such as vitamins and juice, only to receive motorized wheelchairs from the Onyeabors' supply company that they did not need or want and could not return.
In court today, defense attorney Debra Rice argued that her client had given ``substantial'' help to prosecutors and was instrumental in securing convictions for the three co-defendants.
``I don't know how that could be,'' Real responded. ``She did not testify.''