Monday, August 29, 2005

Federal authorities are investigating one of the District’s top Medicaid transportation providers and have seized more than $1 million in accounts held by the company and its president, government records and interviews show.

Investigators are probing billing records to find out if some of the Medicaid identification numbers that D.C.-based Voice of Social Concern Association Inc. submitted to the government for payment belonged to recipients who were deceased, records obtained by The Washington Times show.

In addition, documents filed in U.S. District Court show authorities are questioning a pattern of billing for rides that coincided with major holidays and with a three-day stretch in February 2003 when blizzardlike conditions paralyzed the D.C. area.

No criminal charges have been filed against the company or its president, Akube W. Ndoromo. Agencies investigating the company and Mr. Ndoromo include the FBI, U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, records show.

Mr. Ndoromo, 43, of Northwest has denied any wrongdoing and recently provided court documents about the matter in response to questions posed by The Times.

Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, declined to comment, citing an active investigation into the matter.

Leila Abrar, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Health, said city officials are aware of the investigation and that local authorities first alerted federal officials about potential irregularities in the company’s billing records.

She said all Medicaid payments to the company were suspended earlier this year.

In an interview last week, Mr. Ndoromo called himself “a victim of my own success.” He said authorities are investigating his company because it earned far more than its competitors over the past few years.

“There is totally zero fraud,” he said. “I would never attempt any fraud because I know the consequences. We made a lot of money compared to the other companies, and that’s why they’re coming after me. … I worked hard for that money and I’m not letting go.”

Acting as his own attorney, Mr. Ndoromo has asked the D.C. Court of Appeals to order the return of his personal and corporate assets.

In December, authorities seized more than $1 million from four corporate accounts and four personal accounts held by the company and Mr. Ndoromo. Authorities also seized two vehicles: a 2004 Land Rover and a 2001 Chevrolet 3500 Express van.

Mr. Ndoromo said his company, which employed five drivers and an accountant, ceased operation after the seizure of the funds.

Court records show the federal probe is focusing on whether the company collected Medicaid numbers, including those of deceased beneficiaries and others who never or rarely used the company, then repeatedly submitted phony bills to the government for reimbursement.

Nonemergency Medicaid transportation companies get paid $33 per-client per round trip within the District. Companies can get more money based on mileage outside the District. The District contracts out its Medicaid claims processing to a private company.

Court records show that authorities also are investigating whether Mr. Ndoromo laundered Medicaid funds by moving money into several certificate of deposit accounts and other personal accounts.

Mr. Ndoromo told The Times he only billed the government for rides his company gave to valid Medicaid recipients. He said that some claims his company submitted to the city’s $1.3 billion Medicaid program were dated when his company processed the information, not on the day of the actual ride.

Under D.C. rules, transportation providers must submit the date, nature of the trip and Medicaid number for each ride it bills the government.

Mr. Ndoromo’s rise in the Medicaid transportation industry was swift. He said he came to the U.S. in 1996 and later became a U.S. citizen. He said he was raised in Kenya and later lived in Sudan and Egypt, where he said he worked for a nonprofit association.

Within a few years of moving to the District from North Carolina in 1999, Mr. Ndoromo said he began the Voice of Social Concern Association as a nonprofit. The company became a Medicaid transportation provider in January 2001.

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