The Palm Beach Post
By Jane Musgrave
A Wellington internist has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for helping perpetuate a $40 million Medicare scam by signing orders for arm, knee and wrist braces that weren’t medically necessary.
Although federal prosecutors said Dr. John Agbi was responsible only for $7.6 million in fraudulent billings, he was ordered to help others involved in the scheme repay the entire $40 million that Medicare lost.
Further, U.S. District Judge Roy Altman on Friday ordered the 44-year-old physician to forfeit the $150,000 he pocketed by ordering medical devices for patients he either didn’t see or examined only briefly, according to federal court records.
Altman allowed Agbi to remain free until Nov. 2 when he must report to federal prison to begin serving his sentence.
Agbi’s participation in the scheme was a serious departure for the physician, who rose above his poverty-wracked childhood in Nigeria, immigrated to the United States and put himself through medical school at the University of Rochester, his attorney, J. Everett Wilson, said in court papers.
Many of Agbi’s former and current colleagues wrote letters of support, urging Altman to give their friend and co-worker a lenient sentence so he could help raise his three daughters and continue to contribute to society.
Agbi was among roughly a half-dozen people, including the owners of medical supply stores and marketing companies, who in September were indicted on health care fraud charges in connection with the scheme.
In addition to the prison sentence, Agbi was fired from his job at Wellington Regional Medical Center and has been forced to relinquish his medical license, Wilson wrote. The Florida Department of Health website lists his license as clear and active.