As all readers of the Allegiant Experts Blog are aware, we cover a lot of stories that deal with health care fraud in North America. As we’ve highlighted for the past few years, there have been billions of dollars fraudulently attained and centuries worth of prison sentences doled out. However, we can’t recall a case that featured a longer prison sentence than the one handed down to 53 year-old Ebong Aloysius Tilong.
As reported by Kristen Rasmussen of Texas Lawyer, Tilong was sentenced, last fall, to a whopping 80 years in prison for his role in a $13 million Medicare fraud scheme. He was sentenced, however, in absentia, as he is believed to have fled the United States for Cameroon. Rasmussen reports that Tilong is an apparent record holder for receiving the longest prison term ever doled out for health care fraud.
His fleeing from the country, therefore, doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Even we have to admit that 80 years in prison sounds excessive, given the amount of money Tilong fraudulently attained. Of course, we are, by no means, condoning any act of health care fraud. We’ve just seen much higher illegal grosses result in prison sentences that were much less harsh. Nevertheless, Tilong is now on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General’s Top 10 Most Wanted list.
Now a fugitive, Tilong failed to show up to his sentencing last October.
At the time, he was wearing an ankle monitor and it sent out a tamper alert at 7:30 a.m. on the day the sentencing was to be delivered. As Rasmussen explains, several calls were made to Tilong’s cell phone and none of them were answered. As a result, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon of the Southern District of Texas issued a warrant for his arrest.
“An OIG spokesman said Tilong’s alleged disengagement of his monitoring device and flight overseas before his scheduled sentencing were among several factors that qualified him for Top 10 status among the agency’s more than 170 fugitives wanted on health care fraud and abuse charges,” writes Rasmussen, “Other criteria included the large amount of money involved, the complexity of the case, the lengthy sentence and federal prosecutors’ allegation that Tilong attempted to destroy evidence, blackmail a witness and suborn perjury from witnesses, the spokesman added.”
Tilong’s wife, Marie Neba was also charged and sentenced for her role in the Medicare fraud scheme.
The husband and wife duo owned the Houston-based Fiango Home Healthcare Inc. together during the time they carried out their fraudulent activities. Rasmussen’s article does not detail their illegal actions.
However, a United States Department of Justice report from November 2015 provides some specifics. “Tilong and Neba allegedly paid illegal kickbacks to physicians in exchange for authorizing medically unnecessary home-health services,” the report reveals, “Using the money that Medicare paid for such fraudulent claims, Tilong and Neba allegedly paid illegal kickbacks to Daisy Carter, 56, of Wharton, Texas, and Connie Ray Island, 48, of Houston, in exchange for referring Medicare beneficiaries for home-health services.”
As always, the Allegiant Experts team remains dedicated to assisting attorneys who are trying cases against health care fraudsters. If you’re an attorney in need of clinical expertise, please don’t hesitate to call us at 407-217-5831 or email us at email@example.com.