Justice James Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos on Monday, May 28, 2012 granted the request of the Attorney General of the Federation that one Godwin Chiedo Nzeocha be extradited to the United States of America to face criminal charges over alleged Health Care Benefit Fund fraud involving $30 million.
Nzeocha, 54, worked with the City Nursing Services in Houston, Texas, USA as a Physical Therapist Aide between 2007 and 2009. There, he was alleged to have conspired with others and submitted claims worth $45million to the Medicare and Medicaid for health care services on behalf of some patients who are beneficiaries of the health insurance claims.
Nzeocha and his accomplices were paid $30 million, but failed to remit the funds to the beneficiaries. Consequently, he was dragged before a United States District Court in the Southern District of Texas, Houston by the United States Department of Justice on the 19th of October, 2009 for offences bordering on conspiracy to commit health care fraud, money laundering and mail fraud. Rather than face his trial, Nzeocha fled to Nigeria.
In his ruling, Justice Tsoho agreed with the prosecution that the extradition application was competent and that alleged offences which are the basis of the extradition request are returnable offences.
He therefore ruled that accused be extradited to United States of America to face trial within a period of one month. Nzeocha was arrested in June 2011 by the Economic and Financial Criminal Commission, EFCC, following a petition from the Legal Attaché to the United States Consular Office, Lagos, on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI.
Part of the extradition charges read:
Count 1: Conspiracy to commit health care fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, carrying penalty on conviction of a fine of up to $250,000, or imprisonment of not more than ten (10) years, or both; supervised released of not more than three (3) years; and a special assessment of $100.00 for each convicted offence.
Count 2: Indictment with health care fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1347, carrying penalty on conviction of a fine of up to $250,000, or imprisonment of (10) years, or both; supervised released of not more than three (3) years; and a special assessment of $100.000 for each convicted offence
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