A Los Angeles couple convicted of defrauding Medicare of $14.2 million has been sent to prison by a U.S. District Judge in the Central District of California. Christopher Iruke, 61, received a 15-year sentence, and his wife, Connie Ikpoh, 49, will serve three years. Iruke and Ikpoh were found guilty of multiple counts of health care fraud and conspiracy following their trial in August 2011. A third co-conspirator, Anna Marroquin, was sentenced to three years of supervised release, and two additional co-conspirators are awaiting sentencing. All of the defendants have also been ordered to pay $6.7 million in restitution.
Iruke and Ikpoh, both of whom served as pastors at Arms of Grace Christian Center in Los Angeles, operated four different fradulent medical equipment supply companies, hiring relatives and church members as employees. The couple used illicit contacts to purchase forged prescriptions for expensive medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, then used the fake documents to bill Medicare at a marked-up rate. They also offered free medical equipment to Medicare beneficiaries who agreed to provide Medicare card numbers and personal information. According to witness testimony at the trial, Iruke and Ikpho laundered the fraudulent Medicare reimbursements through a fictitious company established in the name of another church member.
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