On August 25, 2022, the Eleventh Circuit upheld the convictions of a former Alabama physician, Patrick Ifediba, and his sister, Ngozi Justina Ozuligbo, who was a nurse who worked at a clinic run by her brother. They were charged and convicted of health care fraud, money laundering, and other related crimes. They improperly gave large amounts of opioids to people who did not need them, and Ifediba orchestrated a scheme to conduct allergy tests and prescribe allergy medicine to people who did not actually have allergies. Medicare and private insurers were charged for these unnecessary services and prescriptions.
The appellate court affirmed the district court’s refusal to allow certain evidence at the trial, including the fact that Ifediba lawfully treated some patients, and that Ozuligbo followed her brother’s directions without questioning him due to Nigerian cultural norms. The appellate court held that the trial court’s exclusion of improper character evidence did not violate Ifediba’s constitutional right to present a defense. Furthermore, the Eleventh Circuit held that the district court was within its discretion to address the jury collectively rather than individually even after dismissal of one of the alternate jurors for independently looking into the case and discussing it with others outside of court.
Ifediba was sentenced to 30 years in prison, and Ozuligbo was sentenced to 3 years. As the trial occurred in July 2019, Ozuligbo completed her prison sentence during the pendency of the appeal and was recently released from prison and is now on supervised release. The cases are USA v. Patrick Ifediba, case number 20-13218, and USA v. Ngozi Ozuligbo, case number 20-13303, both in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman represent clients of all types and sizes in connection to health care litigation, health care fraud investigations, and white-collar criminal matters. If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today.