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A South Bay woman has been sentenced to 180 months in federal prison for billing Medicare more than $24 million by submitting fraudulent claims for medically unnecessary durable medical equipment – mostly power wheelchairs (PWC) – and PWC repairs, many of which were never performed, the Justice Department announced today.

Tamara Yvonne Motley, 55, a.k.a. “Tamara Ogembe,” of Redondo Beach, was sentenced Tuesday by United States District Judge Stanley Blumenfeld Jr., who also ordered her to pay $13,107,422 in restitution as well as an additional $2,300 in special assessments.

At the conclusion of a five-day trial, a jury on June 27 found Motley guilty of 20 counts of health care fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Judge Blumenfeld ordered her remanded into federal custody that same day after the verdict was read.

From July 2006 to August 2014, Motley was the de facto owner of the Hawthorne-based Action Medical Equipment and Supplies. From January 2013 to November 2016, Motley was the de facto owner of the Ventura-based Kaja Medical Equipment & Supply. Both companies were enrolled with Medicare in the names of Motley’s out-of-state relatives.

Motley orchestrated a scheme in which she paid marketers for patient referrals and then directed them to take patients to corrupt physicians, who prescribed medically unnecessary durable medical equipment, such as PWCs, that Motley’s companies used to submit fraudulent bills to Medicare.

In January 2011, when Medicare changed the reimbursement rules for PWCs to make the upfront payments less lucrative to suppliers, Action switched to billing Medicare for PWC repairs, and continued that scheme at Kaja once Action was shut down. These repairs were not medically necessary not only because the patients did not need the PWCs to begin with, but also because those repairs were not needed to make the PWCs serviceable in any event and often were never performed. These repairs were expensive – often billed for $3,000 to $4,000 each – and accounted for nearly half of Action’s billings and almost all of Kaja’s.

Over an eight-year period, Action billed Medicare more than $18.2 million for DME – most for PWCs, but also for PWC accessories, knee braces and back braces – and the repair or replacement of PWCs. Medicare paid Action nearly $10.3 million.

Between July 2013 and November 2016, Kaja billed Medicare $6.3 million, primarily for PWC repairs. Medicare paid Kaja approximately $2.8 million for those claims.

“[Motley] manipulated those around her to serve her criminal ends,” prosecutors argued in a sentencing memorandum. “She used relatives and employees to conceal her role in the scheme, and even used her infant’s caretaker to carry out the illegal activities of her scheme. She took advantage of vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries in far-flung places like Calexico who were elderly and often non-English speaking. She deceived inspectors to preserve her companies’ accreditation with Medicare.”

Two other defendants were convicted in this case:

– – Cynthia Karina Marquez, 48, of Paramount, who worked as an office manager at both Action nd Kaja, pleaded guilty in December 2019 to two counts of making false statements affecting a health care program. She received a time-served sentence, was placed on supervised release for three years, and was ordered to pay $9,886,646 in restitution.
– – Juan Roberto Murillo, 47, of Montebello, who worked at both medical supply companies as a repair technician, pleaded guilty in November 2019 to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was sentenced to three years’ probation and was ordered to pay $2,504,119 in restitution.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; the FBI; and the California Department of Justice investigated this matter.Assistant United States Attorneys Kristen A. Williams of the Major Frauds Section and David H. Chao of the General Crimes Section prosecuted this case.