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US-based Ghanaian heart surgeon who saved rapper 50 Cent jailed seven years for fraud

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A Ghanaian doctor who plies his trade in the United States of America has been sentenced to seven years in prison for several counts of healthcare fraud.

Moses deGraft Johnson, according to a report by Tallahassee Democrat, was a one-time jet-setting heart surgeon who walked away with millions of dollars for medical procedures he never performed.

The report stated that, Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, who imposed the punishment during a hearing Thursday, November 18 at the federal courthouse in Tallahassee ordered the accused to pay $28.4 million in restitution — the same amount he bilked from the government and private insurers.

In February 2020, Moses deGraft Johnson, was indicted on 58 counts of healthcare fraud. He was accused of ripping off Medicare, Blue Cross Blue Shield and others by billing for expensive procedures he never performed on his underprivileged patients.

Federal prosecutors alleged he also subjected his patients to unwarranted angiograms, a diagnostic procedure requiring an injection, though his defence lawyers contested that.

Judge Walker, then ruled that, deGraft-Johnson performed such procedures but that the risk of harm to patients was minimal.

Under the US federal guidelines, Moses deGraft Johnson faced a sentencing range between roughly 22 and 27 years in prison, plus an additional two years. However, prosecutors said he deserved a downward departure from the guidelines.

Judge Walker agreed. He said the accused was cooperating with the government, and his supposed clean record and the “collateral damage” he and his family have already experienced.

Moses deGraft Johnson, when he was interdicted in 2020 surrendered his medical licenses after he pleaded guilty. The court forced him to sell off expensive properties in New York City, the Hamptons and Miami.

Moses DeGraft Johnson made it known to the court that his children have suffered setbacks in school since his arrest.

“I wrestled with this case,” Walker said. “There are certainly significant aggravators in this case — the duration of the fraud and the scope of this fraud. There’s just no getting around it.”

On the final day in court, the accused who was in handcuffs and leg shackles, acknowledged his guilt as he stood before Judge Walker while delivering his judgement. He said he could not, however, offer an explanation for what he did.

“I take full responsibility,” he said. “I did wrong. All I can say is I’m very sorry. Somehow I took a detour and ended up where I am.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Moses deGraft-Johnson performed hundreds of “unnecessary and invasive” procedures for nearly four years and created false and misleading medical records that could cause other doctors to pursue a “mistaken course of medical treatment.”

“This physician compromised the health and safety of his patients in favour of illegal profit,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jason Coody said in a prepared statement. “His acts not only violated the law, but the trust of his patients.”

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