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FLASHBACK: Relative of former Ghanaian Vice President indicted in fraud case

Tue, 16 Feb 2021 Source: www.ghanaweb.com

In February 2020, a US-based Ghanaian surgeon, Dr. Moses deGraft-Johnson was indicted and charged with 58 counts.

Dr Johnson was identified by US officials as a relative of former Ghanaian Vice President, Moses deGraft-Johnson who was the Vice President of Ghana in the 1980s under the Dr. Hilla Limann administration.

Read the full article as first published by www.ghanaweb.com:

The US-based Ghanaian surgeon, Dr. Moses deGraft-Johnson who has been indicted and charged with 58 counts is a relative to former Vice President under Hilla Limann, Dr. Joseph William Swain deGraft Johnson.

According to prosecutors, per a report captured by U.S-based news channel, wctv.tv, “a family member” of Moses deGraft-Johnson “was the vice president of Ghana in the 1980s.”

Joseph WS de Graft-Johnson was the first ever Vice President of Ghana in the third republic whose government was overthrown on December, 31, 1981.

Indicted Dr. Moses deGraft-Johnson is alleged to have among other things falsified $26m in claims from private health insurers and the US government.

He is said to have performed unnecessary procedures on patients, ‘poached’ patients at local hospitals and billed health care companies for surgeries he didn’t perform.

Court documents pertaining the case indicate that Mr. deGraft-Johnson owned and operated the Heart and Vascular Institute of North Florida since September, 2015. His office manager, Kimberly Austin who was also connected was indicted.

According the 58-count indictment which was sealed Thursday, Moses defrauded medical institutions including Medicare and Medicaid through bills for dozens of procedures that he never performed.

Here’s the rest of the details, as reported by wctv.tv:

A detailed list shows each of the claims was for more than $21,000. Federal prosecutors said in court that the amount of money that was improperly billed reached $23 million.

A later motion alleges deGraft-Johnson’s calendar showed he performed 14 surgeries in one day.

“28 hours of surgery will not fit into the time between 8:30 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.,” prosecutors wrote.

Additionally, prosecutors said in court the procedure deGraft-Johnson claimed he performed is "relatively rare." They also said he does not have enough of the devices required to perform the numerous surgeries he billed patients for.

The indictment contends deGraft-Johnson wasn’t even in the United States on some of those days, but rather was traveling to Madrid, London and other cities in Ghana and China.

Court records show deGraft-Johnson was arraigned in federal court Thursday afternoon and pleaded not guilty.

The Magistrate Judge set his trial for March 23, 2020.

Federal prosecutors requested in court Friday that deGraft-Johnson be detained until his trial, saying the doctor poses a “serious risk of flight.”

Prosecutors contend deGraft-Johnson is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Ghana. They say he has "the motive, the means and the opportunity to flee from the United States to Ghana.”

According to prosecutors, he has two passports, both showing that he has dual citizenship for the United States and Ghana.

In court, prosecutors said deGraft-Johnson's wife is currently applying for a professional license in Ghana. They claim this is additional evidence that he may flee there.

Prosecutors detailed 19 bank accounts and two credit card accounts tied to Degraft-Johnson and HVINF. Prosecutors say the government’s “preliminary financial analysis has determined that Dr. deGraft-Johnson has wired at least approximately $1.8 million in international wire transfers, primarily to persons or entities in Ghana.”

Prosecutors also contend that deGraft-Johnson has stated his ultimate long-term professional goal is “to be the President of Ghana.”

Prosecutors point out a family member was the vice president of Ghana in the 1980s.

“It therefore seems likely that Defendant may have some political influence in Ghana,” prosecutors wrote.

One witness called to the stand Friday was deGraft-Johnson's younger brother, who flew in from Houston. He testified that he and his brother were raised to believe that "fair is fair."

While on the stand, he described deGraft-Johnson's efforts to tutor and support him. He also testified that he and his brother have created a chain of burger restaurants, similar to a McDonald's, in Ghana.

He said on the stand that their goal was to export that company to America and make life better for those in Ghana.

The doctor's brother went on to say neither one of them would ever want to live in Ghana.

Court documents indicate deGraft-Johnson deposited more than $32 million in health care funds into his bank account between November 2015 and August 2019. Prosecutors say that the majority of funds were transferred to other accounts.

A search of his Tallahassee office on Thursday yielded more than $25,000 in cash and a bag with a pre-paid cell phone and several firearms, court documents say.

At one point, deGraft-Johnson told federal agents he had no cash that was not in a bank, but agents found $40,000 cash at one of his residences.

“This suggests that there may be other cash hoards in any of Defendant’s five other residences,” prosecutors wrote.

The doctor's other residences are located in Miami, Manhattan, Hampton and Texas, prosecutors said in court.

Prosecutors also detailed lavish spending, including millions spent on Tiffany and Cartier jewelry, two Mercedes, and the recent leases of a Ferrari and a Lamborghini.

Prosecutors also said he has three drivers licences, all listing his address in Miami.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com