Tallahassee doctor sentenced to 7 years in prison in $28M health care fraud case
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A Tallahassee doctor has been sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in a $28 million health care fraud scheme.
Moses deGraft-Johnson had pleaded guilty to all 58 counts against him in federal court back in Dec. 2020. The judge also ordered him to pay nearly $28.5 million in restitution.
DeGraft-Johnson himself spoke directly to the judge, saying this behavior was an outlier for him.
“I stand before you to let you know I’m very remorseful,” he said. “I take full responsibility. I did wrong. I’m very sorry. Even though I’m not going to practice medicine, I feel that there is a lot of good left in me.”
He said his full intent when he arrived in Tallahassee in 2013 was to help people, particularly in Gadsden County. He said he held free clinics and took on complex cases that other doctors wouldn’t.
DeGraft-Johnson also spoke about the charges against him, pointing out that putting a patient in harm’s way is a different crime than committing healthcare fraud.
DeGraft-Johnson also pointed to his relief work in other countries, adding that while he stole money from the government, he also took actions that saved the government money. He pointed to a clinic he founded in St. Croix, allowing residents to get treatment there, rather than travel to the United States.
He said during his stint in prison, which totals almost two years, he’s tried to use his time wisely, working in the kitchen and starting a Bible fellowship.
Three family members testified as character witnesses: deGraft-Johnson’s brother, his mother, and his wife.
Dr. John deGraft-Johnson, the defendant’s older brother by two years, testified first.
“We are a humble family. We are an immigrant family,” he told the judge.
He described his brother Moses as a natural leader when their family immigrated to the United States in 1985.
John deGraft-Johnson told the judge he had difficulty speaking because of a stutter, but his little brother helped him through it.
He also spoke about Moses’ work on a trip to St. Croix to do an open heart surgery that was not previously available on the island.
He told the judge Moses’ action offends the essence of their family beliefs.
“I ask that the court look at his possibilities and take that into consideration,” John deGraft-Johnson said.
He said the humiliation of the case and Moses surrendering his medical license has “infected all of our lives,” citing the impact on the defendant’s children.
“We are fully aware and recognize that these actions are a departure from who we are,” deGraft-Johnson said, adding that he would take his brother’s place if he could.
DeGraft-Johnson’s mother Amelia was the second speaker.
She said Moses was a son who never complained, citing his hard work at jobs as a teenager while attending school.
She spoke emotionally about the difficulty of seeing her son while he was incarcerated during the pandemic.
DeGraft-Johnson’s wife was the third speaker; she read the judge letters from their three sons.
She told the judge each of them are struggling in different ways, and that she and her children need deGraft-Johnson.
“He’s my heart, my supporter, and my strength,” she said. “He gives of himself.”
When deGraft-Johnson was indicted in Feb. 2020, court documents showed his calendar saying 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.
You can read more about the improper billing and deGraft-Johnson’s lavish spending in this previous WCTV article.
“In our view, this case is about the tremendous amount of money lost,” said Assistant United States Attorney, Andrew Grogan.
He spoke about the “four round circuit” deGraft-Johnson used, in some cases falsely performing an angiogram, follow up appointment, a second angiogram, and another follow-up appointment.
Grogan also said DeGraft-Johnson preyed on vulnerable populations, including the elderly and mentally incapacitated. He said one patient the Government interviewed felt violated and angry, while another sought therapy.
The Government’s expert also argued that in a sample pulled from the patient list, a percentage of patients did not need an angiogram at all, but still received them.
“It almost amounts to battery,” Grogan said.
The defense pushed back on the claim, saying deGraft-Johnson would content that he did not do any procedure that was not medically indicated.
The judge agreed the procedure had a minimal risk, but that risk was greater than no procedure at all.
The prosecution agreed that deGraft-Johnson’s sentence should fall below the guideline range, which was between 21 and 27 years. The judge ultimately decided on seven years.
- Tallahassee doctor indicted for multimillion-dollar health care fraud scheme
- Tallahassee doctor pleads guilty to 58 counts in health care fraud case
Copyright 2021 WCTV. All rights reserved.