US-based Ghanaian cardiovascular surgeon, Dr Moses DeGraft-Johnson who was earlier this year charged for participating in a federal healthcare fraud has pleaded guilty.
The 46-year-old admitted to 56 counts of health-care fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Dr DeGraft-Johnson, the owner of defunct Heart and Vascular Institute of North Florida, was indicted on February 4, for swindling the American government and health insurers of more than $26 million.
The cardiovascular surgeon among other things was accused of performing unnecessary procedures on patients, billing health care companies millions for surgeries he never performed, and for ‘poaching’ patients at local hospitals.
Dr deGraft-Johnson who is said to be a relative to former Vice President under Hilla Limann, Dr. Joseph William Swain deGraft Johnson then used the money gained from the illegal act for a lavish lifestyle including travelling across the world for pleasure.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he used churches, nursing homes and at least one hospital to find vulnerable victims, many of whom were subjected to invasive and unnecessary procedures.
His crimes left some patients unsure about the veracity of their own medical records and what treatment they may actually need.
Prosecutors also revealed that Dr deGraft-Johnson deposited more than $32 million of health care funds into his bank account between November 2015 and August 2019 but the majority of the money was transferred to other accounts.
According to a US-based news portal, Tallahassee Democrat, deGraft-Johnson faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on each of the fraud and conspiracy counts, another maximum sentence of two years for the identity theft, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential fines.
The report also indicated that he will be sentenced on April 8, 2021, at the U.S Courthouse in Tallahassee.
De-graft-Johnson was born in Ghana but immigrated to America with his family as a child, settling in the Houston area.
He had a storied medical career, including reportedly saving the life of rapper 50 Cent, who came into his Queens trauma ward in 2000 with multiple gunshot wounds.
In recent years, he divided his time between Tallahassee, where he had a downtown condo, and New York City, where his wife and children resided.
He joined Capital Regional Medical Center’s staff in 2014, working as an independent doctor until sometime before his crimes came to light.
He had numerous business ventures in the U.S. and Africa, including a hamburger restaurant, a nightclub and a failed effort to build a hospital in Ghana.
He even aspired to run one day for president of Ghana; one of his family members served as vice president of the country in the early 1980s.
Kimberly Austin, who worked as an office manager at the institute, was also charged by a federal grand jury in Tallahassee. She pleaded guilty last month.