ONUMBA.COM – Dr. Charles C. Njoku, 61, the Nigerian-born physician who pleaded guilty to charges of committing medical fraud and having his office assistant, Veronica Scott-Guiler, practice medicine, will spend a year and a day in federal prison for his shenanigans.
That was the sentence handed down last week by the U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley.
Njoku, who owned The People’s Family Medical Center, with offices in two locations, Akron and Columbus, including one at 1279 E. Dublin-Granville Road, could have received 30 years in prison plus a fine of $1.5 million.
His package of punishment includes three years probation, including one year of house confinement, and 416 hours of community service.
What’s more, he and Scott-Guiler will reimburse the government the $131,995 paid to People’s Family Medical Center as a result of these fraudulent billings.
Prosecutors had pressed for a three year sentence for Njoku. But his attorney Walter Madison argued otherwise, contending that his client should have been spared of any prison time, noting Njoku’s “exceptional life.”
Indeed, Njoku has had that kind of life.
But it all came to an abrupt end after his arrest in January, setting off a saga that belied the storied career of a man whose impressive resume helped him build a thriving medical practice after earning his medical degree at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., in 1979.
In 1983, Njoku was licensed to practice medicine in Ohio.
In his practice, he allowed Scott-Guiler from Orient – who is not a physician – to see patients in his absence. Needless to say, it was an ill-advised decision that spiraled into a slippery slope to his eventual doom.
He pleaded guilty on Sept. 28 to health care fraud involving numerous instances where he billed government health care programs for Medicaid and Medicare visits and services that were never provided to patients.
In some instances, some of the services were provided, but not by him.
Rather, they were provided by his 42-year old assistant filling in for him as the physician tasked to perform such duties as prescribing medications to patients, including controlled narcotics – using pre-signed pads.
Njoku, whose former address was Valley Run Place in Powell, billed the government for these services as though they were provided by a physician.
Similarly, he submitted bills for patient visits that took place while he was out of the country, essentially falsely claiming that he provided care to these patients when in fact they were seen by his assistant.
Njoku’s wave of fraudulent indulgencies occurred from 2005 to 2009 and involved a pattern of falsified billing for services that were not provided, tests that were not necessary and patients that he did not see.
Meanwhile, Scott-Guiler also pleaded guilty for her role in all of this on Aug. 13. However, she received a lenient punishment of three years probation because according to Marbley, she was a “gullible” woman who was used by Njoku.
Her punishment includes one year of house confinement and 104 hours of community services.