Federal authorities in Florida have unsealed the indictment of a Florida surgeon accused of bilking the government and health insurers of more than $26 million, which he allegedly planned to use to finance his political career in Ghana.
Dr. Moses deGraft-Johnson was indicted on 58 counts, including health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud. He was ordered held until his trial date because he was deemed to be a flight risk. Attorney information wasn’t available at the time of writing.
According to court documents, deGraft-Johnson is the owner and operator of the Heart and Vascular Institute of Northern Florida in Tallahassee. He allegedly used his practice to bill health insurers, including Medicare and Medicaid, for work he never performed between September 2015 and February 2020.
During that five-year period, the doctor allegedly claimed to have performed over 3,500 atherectomies—a simple surgical procedure used to remove potentially dangerous buildup in arteries. He is also accused of filing claims for angioplasties he never performed.
DeGraft-Johnson was indicted alongside Kimberly Austin, who purportedly served as the office manager at his practice. The pair allegedly poached patients from a local hospital where deGraft-Johnson had access to medical records.
“He used his access to the hospital’s daily census to poach patients for his scheme to defraud, instructing his staff to cold call patients from the hospital so that he could use their presence to fraudulently bill health care programs,” prosecutors said in court documents.
According to prosecutors, deGraft-Johnson wasn’t even in the country when some of the surgical procedures were supposed to have been performed. He had claimed to have performed the surgeries in his Tallahassee office when in reality he was traveling in the UK, Spain, and Ghana.
Prosecutors argued to keep deGraft-Johnson in custody, asserting that he was a flight risk because of his ties to Ghana. U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Stampelos agreed to keep the doctor, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, remanded until his trial date on March 23.
Prosecutors claimed the doctor had an “ultimate long-term professional goal” of becoming the president of Ghana, and had been using the proceeds of the alleged fraud scheme to “establish an empire in a foreign country.” One of the doctor’s relatives had reportedly served as Ghana’s vice president in the 1980s.
The government said it wasn’t in a position to “evaluate the feasibility of such an endeavor,” but an investigation of deGraft-Johnson’s finances revealed that he sent at least $1.8 million via international wire transfers to entities and associates in Ghana.
Health care fraud is one of the most heavily prosecuted crimes in Florida. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, 9.8 percent of offenders prosecuted nationwide in 2011 were for fraud-related offenses. In Florida, that figure is almost twice the national average with 18.4 percent of all offenders being prosecuted for fraud-related offenses.
South Florida Health Care Fraud Attorney