South Bay woman sentenced to 15 years in $24M wheelchair fraud scheme

A Redondo Beach woman was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for bilking Medicare out of $24 million for unnecessary repairs to medical devices like power wheelchairs.

Tamara Yvonne Motley, 55, who also uses the name Tamara Ogembe, was sentenced and ordered to pay more than $13.1 million in restitution on Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.

Motley was convicted in June of 20 counts of health care fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

For more than 10 years and through a pair of medical equipment companies registered to her out-of-state relatives, Motley used her role as “de facto owner” to submit “fraudulent claims for medically unnecessary durable medical equipment – mostly power wheelchairs (PWC) – and PWC repairs, many of which were never performed,” the DOJ said.

“Motley orchestrated a scheme in which she paid marketers for patient referrals and then directed them to take patients to corrupt physicians, who prescribed medically unnecessary durable medical equipment, such as PWCs, that Motley’s companies used to submit fraudulent bills to Medicare,” the release added.

Two of Motley’s employees were also convicted in this case.

Office manager Cynthia Karina Marquez, 48, of Paramount, pleaded guilty to two counts of making false statements affecting a health care program in 2019. She was sentenced to time served and was put on supervised release for three years. She also must repay $9.9 million.

Repair techinician Juan Roberto Murillo, 47, of Montebello, admitted to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in 2019. He was placed on probation for three years and must repay $2.5 million.

“[Motley] manipulated those around her to serve her criminal ends,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memo. “She used relatives and employees to conceal her role in the scheme, and even used her infant’s caretaker to carry out the illegal activities of her scheme. She took advantage of vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries in far-flung places like Calexico who were elderly and often non-English speaking. She deceived inspectors to preserve her companies’ accreditation with Medicare.”

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