Federal prosecutors charged a Florida doctor for allegedly taking $26 million from Medicaid, Medicare and other health insurance for phony health procedures.
Dr. Moses D. Degraft-Johnson pleaded not guilty to several criminal counts filed by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida on Thursday, including health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
Degraft-Johnson ran the Heart and Vascular Institute of Northern Florida in Tallahassee and is accused of submitting false claims to health insurance agencies for procedures and obtaining the money for his personal use, according to court documents. This allegedly took place between Sept. 21, 2015 and Feb. 4, 2020.
Degraft-Johnson allegedly went to hospitals, scheduled patients for unnecessary visits and billed for the phony services, federal prosecutors said.
In some cases, the doctor claimed he had done the procedures in his office when in reality he was traveling abroad to locations such as Spain, the United Kingdom and Ghana, according to court documents.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles A. Stampelos agreed to a request by prosecutors to keep Degraft-Johnson, a naturalized American citizen, remanded until his slated trial date on March 23.
Prosecutors claim the doctor told officials his "ultimate long-term professional goal" was to be the president of Ghana, and he had "been hard at work using the proceeds of fraud in the United States to establish an empire in a foreign country."
William Bubsey, the attorney who represented Degraft-Johnson at the hearing, didn't immediately return messages for comment to ABC News. Bubsey told the judge that any money his client might have sent to his home country was meant to help impoverished people there and not for personal use, the Associated Press reported.