A Newark pediatrician was sentenced to three years in prison for billing Medicaid for 24-hour work days on multiple occasions when her office was only open for eight hours, authorities said Monday.
Dr. Ibilola Ighama-Amegor, 55, was also ordered to pay $216,000 in restitution when sentenced Friday by Judge Michael Petrolle in state Superior Court in Newark, New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino said in a statement.
“Dr. Amegor used her medical degree as a license to steal from a program that pays for medical care for the elderly and those who can’t afford health insurance,” Porrino said. “She doesn’t belong in the medical profession; she belongs in prison, which is right where she’s going.”
In June, an Essex County jury found Ighama-Amegor guilty of 48 counts of health care claims fraud and a single count of Medicaid fraud, all third degree charges. She was found not guilty of theft by deception a second degree crime.
Deputy Attorneys General Crystal Callahan and Dennis Kwasnik of the state’s Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor told jurors that Ighama-Amegor submitted bills for 24 hours of work or more for the same day on 48 dates between April 30, 2008 and May 16, 2011.
An investigation found that her practice, known as Quality Pediatrix, was only open eight hours a day, three days a week.
A spokeswoman for Porrino, Lisa Coryell, said Ighama was taken into custody Friday after her motion to remain free pending appeal was rejected. Coryell said the state was in the process of rescinding Ighama-Amegor’s medical license.
“Doctors who file false insurance claims undermine the integrity of a system that depends on the trustworthiness of licensed professionals,” acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Christopher Iu stated. “Dr. Amegor’s sentence sends a powerful message that medical professionals who commit insurance fraud will be held accountable for their greed.”