Patricia Mubanga Chisanga wanted by FBI on fraud charges still in Zambia

Fugitive Patricia Mubanga Chisanga
Fugitive Patricia Mubanga Chisanga
Fugitive Patricia Mubanga Chisanga

A THIRTY-FOUR-YEAR-OLD Zambian woman wanted by the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) on fraud charges involving US$525,000 is in the country although no formal request has been made for her extradition to face charges in the United States of America.
Patricia Mubanga Chisanga escaped from the US dragnet in November last year when word went round that she was about to be arrested over accusations of defrauding Medicaid in the district of Columbia.
Immigration department spokesperson, Namati Nshika confirmed in an interview during the week in Lusaka that Chisanga entered the country via Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola on December 16, 2012.
Mr Nshinka, however, said it was not clear on where the fugitive was coming from when she entered the country.
Chisanga was indicted on charges of healthcare fraud and conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud.
The US authorities say she and her boyfriend Ben Odunzeh, believed to be a Nigerian, opened and ran Emerald Medical Services on Georgia Avenue where she was listed as vice-president of the institution.
The two had between 2008 and 2011 allegedly defrauded the D.C. Medicaid programme and hundreds of needy clients to the tune of $525,000.
Odunzeh pleaded guilty and is currently serving a 19-month jail sentence on the same offence after being arrested at the airport as he tried to run away from the US.
It is also understood that there has been no formal request made to the Zambian authorities by the US to arrest the 34-year-old woman.
According to documents obtained by the Sunday Times, Chisanga is still listed among the wanted persons on the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) website.
The indictment says Chisanga routinely “altered and falsified forms”, providing less expensive, motorised wheelchairs while billing Medicaid for the top-of-the-line models.
Investigators say she pocketed as much as $5,000 per device and Nick DiGuilio from the Office of the Inspector General confirmed that his office, the FBI and D.C. Medicaid Fraud Control Unit were all working to get her back.
Emerald Medical Services, which has since closed down, is a durable medical equipment company operating in the district of Columbia and purportedly providing wheelchairs and other medical equipment to Medicaid patients.
Investigators believe that authorisation forms necessary for the submission of claims to Medicaid were altered by Chisanga and her conspirator after they were signed by the prescribing physician.
OIG special agents confronted Chisanga about her participation in the scheme, which prompted her to flee the US to Ethiopia, before taking a flight to Zambia.