Man charged in Ga. health care fraud

BRUNSWICK, Ga. - A former Brunswick businessman faces federal charges that he tried to steal more than $500,000 from Medicare in a fraud scheme carried out through medical equipment supply companies he operated in Georgia and Texas.

 

Samuel Curtis III, 37, of Houston, Texas, is charged with four counts each of health care fraud and aggravated identity theft, and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, an indictment unsealed Wednesday showed.

Curtis is charged with carrying out a fraudulent scheme while operating Preferred Prosthetics and Orthotics in Brunswick and Team Orthotics and Prosethetics Inc. in Houston from January 2005 through June 2008. In the scheme, Curtis and others stole identifying information from Medicare patients and doctors then used it to submit phony claims to Medicare, according to the indictment.

The indictment states Curtis and others routinely billed Medicare for ankle, knee and back braces and other medical devices that either were never provided to patients, were not medically necessary or had not been prescribed by a doctor. 

"The investigation continues and we are not ruling out any additional arrests," FBI Special Agent Tony Alig, one of the lead investigators, told the Georgia Times-Union newspaper.

FBI agents were searching for Curtis, the second person charged in the case, but his arrest had not been reported by Wednesday evening.

Curtis' longtime friend, Cecil Risher, 36, of Brunswick, was the first to be arrested in the investigation.

Risher worked at both businesses. He conspired with Curtis and two other people to defraud Medicare from January 2005 through June 2008 in Glynn County, federal prosecutors charged in a criminal complaint filed last month.  

He is free on $20,000 bail. If convicted of conspiracy, Risher faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, court records show.

Curtis faces harsher penalties if convicted. He could get up to 10 years in prison on each conspiracy to commit health care fraud and health care fraud charge. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year prison term consecutive to any other sentenced, the law states.

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