A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced a Bowie, Md., wife and husband to 10 and seven years in prison, respectively, for orchestrating a multiyear campaign to defraud D.C. Medicaid of more than $80 million between 2009 and 2014, the largest local health-care fraud scheme ever prosecuted in the city.
Florence Bikundi, 53, and Michael D. Bikundi Sr., 63, were ordered to forfeit more than $11 million in cash, their $1 million home and five luxury vehicles by Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who also imposed a money judgment of $40 million and ordered the couple to pay $80.6 million in restitution.
“Florence and Michael Bikundi enriched themselves for years by operating a rogue home care agency,” at the expense of people in need, U.S. Attorney for the District Channing D. Phillips said in a joint statement with the FBI and Secret Service Washington field offices, as well as inspectors general for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the District of Columbia.
“Hopefully the sentences today will serve as a deterrent to other unscrupulous health care providers who aim to steal the taxpayers’ money,” Phillips said.
A federal jury in November found the couple guilty of multiple counts of money laundering, health-care fraud and conspiracy through their District-based home health-care firm, Global Health Care Services.
At trial, prosecutors said the Bikundis used the company as a simple, yet massive, “get-rich-quick scheme” that enlisted trusted relatives and others to sign up and coach Medicaid recipients who received kickbacks for submitting fraudulent claims for health care that never was provided.
Seven others had earlier pleaded guilty to charges in the investigation, including Florence Bikundi’s son and two sisters. Two others indicted in the investigation remain at large, prosecutors said: Christian S. Asongcha, 39, formerly of Lanham, Md., and Atawan Mundu John, 39, formerly of the District.
U.S. authorities in the District announced charges in February 2014 against 25 people in separate and even competing schemes, stating that Medicaid fraud was “at epidemic levels” in the city. The number of beneficiaries billing for personal-care services had quadrupled to 10,000 since 2006, and billings grew sevenfold, to $280 million.