Crime & Justice

Los Angeles pastor sentenced to 3 years for Medicare fraud using power wheelchairs

A wheelchair.
A wheelchair.

A church pastor based in Los Angeles has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for defrauding Medicare out of more than $14 million.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement that Connie Ikpoh, 49, was sentenced Monday, seven weeks after her husband was sentenced to 15 years.

The judge also gave her three years of supervised release and a $6.7 million restitution order.

Ikpoh, her husband Christopher Iruke and their employee Aura Marroquin were found guilty of conspiracy and fraud by a jury in August.

Prosecutors say the couple hired churchgoers from their Arms of Grace Christian Center to help run a medical supply operation that used phony documents to bill Medicare for wheelchairs and other health equipment.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, each power wheelchair costs approximately $900 wholesale, but were billed to Medicare at almost $6,000 per chair.vIkpoh and Iruke then allegedly hid the money they used to pay for these fraudulent prescriptions by writing checks to a company called “Direct Supply” — a company that Iruke created in the name of one of her church's members.

Iruke cashed the checks that he and Ikpoh wrote to Direct Supply and used the money to buy more fake prescriptions.