California pastor pleads guilty to $11 million in medicare fraud

December 18, 2012

A Southern California pastor pleaded guilty Monday to participating in a Medicare fraud scheme that totaled more than $11 million.

Chargles Agbu, 58, admitted to owning and operating a Carson medical equipment supply company that billed Medicare for expensive devices, such as power wheelchairs, using fraudulent prescriptions, according to the Department of Justice. Agbu pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health fraud and one count of money laundering.

Agbu, a pastor at Pilgrim Congregational Church in Los Angeles, faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

The pastor admitted to paying recruiters to convince Medicare patients to provide him their Medicare information in exchange for specialized wheelchairs and other expensive equipment they did not need. Agbu also conspired with clinics and doctors, whom he paid between $100 and $700 for writing fraudulent prescriptions and providing documentation supporting patients’ needs for power wheelchairs. Agbu’s company Bonfee Inc. billed Medicare for the medical equipment.

Agbu and his co-conspirators submitted false claims to Medicare totaling more than $11 million. They received nearly $6 million on those claims.

The DOJ is prosecuting four co-defendants in Abu’s case, including the pastor’s daughter, Obiageli Agbu. The co-defendants are scheduled for trial in February 2013. Agbu is scheduled to appear for sentencing in May.

Dr. Juan Tomas Van Putte, whom Agbu paid to write fake prescriptions pleaded guilty in November to conspiring to commit Medicare fraud. Van Putten faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for March.

The office of the U.S. Health and Human Services Inspector General, which participated in the investigation, released a report last month alleging that a California health insurance firm, PacifiCare, over billed Medicare $424 million. PacifiCare, too, charged Medicare for health care services their patients did not need.

 


13 Comments

  1. SmilingJack says:

    Jesus warned–many will come in my name. Speaking about false teachers. When asked, said –you will know them by their works.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    • Ted Slanders says:

      Jack,

      For you to be specific; “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matthew 7:15) “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” (Matthew 24:11)

      It’s truly sad, that for the gullible, and ever so wanting to believe, they will be taken advantage of in so many ways.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

      • MaryMalone says:

        Ted, I don’t know how to break this to you, but anyone who believes the Bible is literal truth is either mentally deficient or extremely gullible. There are just too many inconsistencies and contradictions in the Bible for it to be taken literally.

        Worse is the fact that some Christian parents actually convince their own children to believe the Bible literally, setting up their own children to be the fleeced by politically and greed-driven Christian shepherds like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and the ever-more-gay-looking Rick Warren (Saddleback Church)..

        So con artists have a waiting and primed gullible Christian flock to fleece.

        Con artists also flock to government programs where lack of adequate oversight has repeatedly fostered massive frauds to occur, for which we taxpayers must pay. There are many reasons why Christian-right backers so lavishly fund conservative political groups, including the GOP, because these politicians can provide some measure of protection for these Christian-right funding sources from government oversight .

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 10

  2. SLOTECH90 says:

    Wow! It’s sociopath Tuesday on Cal Coast News; first the insurance story and then this one.
    Ted, you are so right on; good post buddy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  3. Ted Slanders says:

    What’s the difference between Charles Agbu bilking Medicare for millions of dollars, and Peter Popoff Ministries, where he will sell you some “Miracle Spring Water” to remove all of your money debts? Furthermore, he will also heal you of your sickness if you can get on his T.V. program!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tcq6K3cd3c

    Both are outright fraudulent scams. Pastor Charles Agbu took the wrong route to make money through Jesus. He should have followed Peter Popoff’s example of using Jesus in the way that he does to bilk the ignorant and stupid Christians of our society, because so far, Popoff is still in business and making millions of dollars every year.

    Charles Agbu and Peter Popoff are just a few of the many ministers that fraudulently takes the willing sheep over the cliff, just like Oral Robert’s, Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, Joyce Meyer, et al, have done so many times.

    If your pastor is driving a better car, or living in a house that is bigger than yours, then think twice before dropping those crisp twenty dollar bills into the collection plate.

    As P.T. Barnum allegedly said, “there is a sucker born every minute.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 5

    • Theo P. Neustic says:

      But, I thought you were the resident pastor of Cal Coast News. I guess since you never ask for contributions that it’s a different situation.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

      • Ted Slanders says:

        Theo,

        Resident pastor? That has a nice ring to it!

        In any event, at times I have to take my purple religious coat off to be able to take it to the cleaners. When doing so, it allows me to reflect back upon the belief of Christianity in a different light to see how gullible my fellow cohorts of the faith actually are in so many, many, many, many ways.

        Regarding the contribution scenario, and subjectively, just think of the money that has been placed in the collection plates over the years, that instead of building and maintaining a large edifice on some corner of Main Street America, that money could have gone to actually helping the poor as Jesus stated. (Proverbs 19:17)

        Besides, the Hebrew/Christian God DOES NOT dwell in any church or temple, but only His followers dwell there that are appeased by the minister picking and choosing specific complacent, and somewhat inane, passages to keep the flock in the fold. “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.” (Acts 17:24)

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

    • R.Hodin says:

      As with Warhol’s quote, it needs constant updating. Today, there’s a sucker born every millisecond.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

    • shelworth says:

      There’s a big difference between Charles Agbu and Peter Popoff, one rips off the Government (my money) and the other rips off idiots.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  4. womanwhohasbeenthere says:

    Maybe the IRS should take over Medicare. Funny how they can detect minutia in tax returns but their counterparts at Medicare can’t do the same.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

    • MaryMalone says:

      There aren’t many Washington politicians funded by the usual IRS targets–middle-class small business owners.

      Funding politicians for protection from government oversight is like any other protection racket: you don’t get protection if you don’t have the $$$ to pay for protection.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. Jorge Estrada says:

    Sounds like one of Ali Baba’s 40 thieves is going to jail.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  6. hotdog says:

    Scandalous. The economic penalty should be double the losses, not a fraction thereof.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

Comments are closed.