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Fort Bend man indicted and detained on federal fraud charges

The U.S. Attorney’s office announced last week that Fort Bend resident Patrick Ita, 55, was arrested at IAH/Bush airport as he returned to the US from a trip to Amsterdam

Ita, proprietor of Masspoint Medical Equipment, a durable medical equipment company, has been indicted in an alleged scheme to defraud Medicare of millions, according to the Houston Division of the U.S. Attorney’s office. According to officials, Ita has been in federal custody since New Year’s Day, detained without bond, pending trial.

In a 31-count indictment, he was charged with conspiracy, health care fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering in a scheme to defraud Medicare of nearly $5 million said United States Attorney José Angel Moreno and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

According to the indictment, Ita is alleged to have been involved in filing for millions of dollars in claims with Medicare/Medicaid for power wheelchairs allegedly supplied to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Allegations in the indictment indicate that between October 2005 and November 2006, Ita purchased Medicare beneficiary information from a defunct DME company in order to solicit those beneficiaries for power wheelchairs.

Further information indicates that Ita used marketers to recruit unwitting Medicare beneficiaries in Texas and Louisiana by promising them a free motorized wheelchair.

US Attorney Moreno said, “Ita is alleged to have fraudulently billed Medicare using a special modifier code issued by Medicare for claims resulting from a catastrophe or disaster like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.”

If convicted, Ita, faces a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy. As well as 21 counts of health care fraud; each with a maximum penalty of 10 years in a federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Then, he also faces six counts of wire fraud; each of those carry a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The money laundering counts carry a 20-year maximum penalty and a $500,000 fine.

“The criminal charges against Ita are the result of a joint investigation by agents of the FBI, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, and the Medicare Fraud Control Unit of the Texas Attorney General’s Office,” said Moreno. Ita has been ordered detained without bond pending trial on the charges before United States District Judge Sim Lake; his trial is scheduled for Feb. 22, 2011.

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