Atlanta OB/GYN Pleads Guilty to Medicaid Fraud and Aiding the Unlicensed Practice of Medicine
On Thursday, July 17, 2014, Nathaniel Johnson, of Atlanta, Ga., pled guilty to one felony count of Medicaid Fraud (O.G.G.A. § 49-4-146.1(b)), one felony count of Conspiracy to Defraud the State (O.C.G.A. § 16-10-21) and one felony count of allowing the Unlicensed Practice of Medicine (O.C.G.A. § 43-34-22). Johnson fraudulently billed Georgia Medicaid for services performed by an unlicensed and unsupervised medical school graduate.
The plea came on the fourth day of a jury trial held before Judge Christopher Brasher in the Fulton County Superior Court. During the non-negotiated plea, the Attorney General’s Office recommended that the Court impose a ten year sentence with the first four years to be spent in prison. Judge Brasher sentenced Johnson to a ten year sentence with the first six months to serve in the county jail.
“Dr. Johnson not only swindled funds from Georgia Medicaid, he also put patients at risk by allowing an individual without a medical license to examine and treat patients of his practice,” said Attorney General Sam Olens. “As a result of the aggressive prosecution by my office, Dr. Johnson has been sentenced to prison and will no longer be licensed to practice medicine in Georgia.”
Through the course of trial, attorneys from the Georgia Attorney General’s office presented evidence that during the indictment time period, June 14, 2004 through June 23, 2008, Johnson, the owner and operator of Regency Professional Health Services for Women (Regency), was enrolled in the Georgia Medicaid program as an obstetrics and gynecologist physician. Testimony showed that Johnson knowingly employed Jeff Romeus, a recent graduate of the American International School of Medicine in Guyana, to treat patients on his own as if he were a doctor but without a license to practice medicine. Johnson allowed Romeus to perform exams, prescribe medications, give diagnoses and even supervise medical students on his own. Romeus himself testified that from June 2006 to December 2007, Johnson was rarely in the office, and that Romeus saw nearly all the patients as the sole practitioner. During this same time period, Johnson billed the Medicaid program over $217,000.
Additionally, medical professionals and state investigators presented evidence that in reviewing hundreds of Johnson’s patient charts, they found that over 75 percent of Johnson’s billing was fraudulent. In reaching that conclusion, the state’s witnesses testified that Johnson fraudulently double-charged for services rendered during pregnancies, overbilled for claims such as office visits, and failed to produce any documentation that some services were actually performed. Analysis of Johnson’s bank accounts revealed that Johnson spent Medicaid monies to build other personal enterprises such as Tulut Entertainment and a cosmetic surgery center, Royal Cosmetics.
As part of the sentence, the court required that Johnson surrender his license to practice medicine, have no contact with the former patients of Regency, and pay restitution of stolen Medicaid funds to the Department of Community Health and the State of Georgia. The exact amount to be repaid will be determined at a hearing before the court on August 25.
Assistant Attorney General Steven Lee and Assistant Attorney General Kevin Bradberry prosecuted the case on behalf of the State of Georgia. The investigation was conducted by Investigator Tiffany Reed, Special Agent Merlin Ector, Auditor Investigator Kim Kolesnik, Nurse Investigator Nancy Goddard, Intelligence Analyst Vanda Russell, and Investigator Chekesha Johnson with the assistance of the Georgia Department of Community Health.