A former Raleigh, NC-based financial advisor with New York Life has been found guilty of healthcare fraud that targeted the elderly and disabled and involved the submission of more than 5,000 false Medicare claims, the US Department of Justice said this week.
Furman Alexander Ford, 52, was convicted of multiple counts of fraud and identity theft by a federal jury in US District Court on Oct. 19, according to a press release issues by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina. He now faces up to 52 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced in January.
His co-conspirator, Jimmy Guess, pleaded guilty to fraud charges in connection with the scheme in September, the US Attorney’s Office said.
Ford and Guess orchestrated a Medicare fraud scheme that included submitting more than 5,000 claims for mental health services that were never provided to about 145 alleged beneficiaries, prosecutors said. He was convicted of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, healthcare fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Ford, a former broker, had already been sentenced to 11 years in prison on February 4 for fleecing an elderly client out of more than a million dollars, which he used to pay child support and to support a luxury lifestyle.
“The defendant in this case preyed upon the most vulnerable in our society—the elderly, the poor, and the disabled,” said Michael Easley, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, in a statement.
Ford executed several schemes to obtain the beneficiaries’ Medicare information, the Department of Justice said. In one scheme, Ford’s company offered electronic health records and teletherapy counseling at assisted living homes for the elderly and disabled.
“In another scheme, Ford’s company offered free food in exchange for the Medicare information of low-income elderly parishioners at churches in Bladen County, North Carolina, and by cold-calling unsuspecting victims offering telehealth services,” said the DOJ.
“It is disturbing when fraudsters exploit vulnerable Medicare enrollees and defraud federal health care programs for personal gain,” said Tamala E. Miles, special agent in charge at the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General.
“Today’s verdict in this case shows that our agency, working with our law enforcement partners, will continue to hold bad actors accountable and protect both Medicare and those served by this program,” Miles added.
According to Ford’s BrokerCheck record, he had been registered with Finra since 1989 and was subject to three liens over customer complaints each totaling less than $5,000 between 2008 and 2010, before settling a customer complaint in 2018 for $1,395,000 over the withdrawal of $1 million from an elderly widow’s charitable trust-owned annuity without her knowledge or consent. These are the same charges Ford was found guilty of and sentenced to 11 years in prison for earlier this year.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Ford pled guilty.