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Houston-based entrepreneur recounts a cold brush with the law

Matthew U. Okorocha , Inset: Houston defense attorney, Ali Fazel
Matthew U. Okorocha , Inset: Houston defense attorney, Ali FazelInternational Guardian

■ Okorocha’s lawyer, Ali Fazel believed that his client was being falsely snarled into an offense committed by someone else.

A mid-day call from his lawyer informing him that his controversial federal case has been quashed by the district judge almost ran him crazy. He had insisted in his innocence and declined any forum to negotiate his charges. Matthew U. Okorocha, 63, the president of K.C. International – a Houston-based medical equipment supply company told the International Guardian, “It is unjust to negotiate innocence. I would not discuss a plea bargain in some frivolous charges that I do not know about, and I made this clear right from the beginning.”

Okorocha was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit health care fraud with one Lawrence T. Tyler, 41, both from Houston, in a 10-count superseding indictment, returned June 12, 2013. The indictment alleged that Okorocha created false invoices around 2008 to assist Tyler in order for his durable medical equipment company to pass its Medicare inspection. Tyler, according to the charges, retained these invoices to keep his billing number – but Okorocha denied all charges and insisted he knew nothing about some business and personal relationship between his secretary and Tyler at the time.

The major indictment was against Tyler, who operated under a company name, 1866ICPAYDAY. COM LLC. Tyler allegedly billed Medicare and Medicaid about $2.3 million and was paid approximately $1.4 million. He had allegedly billed Medicare and Medicaid falsely for so-called “ortho kits” which consisted of assorted braces from 2007 to 2009 through his company. Tyler allegedly billed for equipment that was never delivered. He billed for equipment using prescriptions from a physician who never treated the patients and up coded - billed for a higher reimbursed brace but delivered a cheaper brace that either did not fit the billing code or did not qualify for any Medicare reimbursement. In addition, as part of the conspiracy, the indictment alleges Tyler paid a marketer for patient billing information, a violation of the federal anti-kickback statute.

Okorocha was tied to the case because his secretary at the time secretly dated Tyler and may have helped him with invoices unconnected with her responsibilities at the K.C. International, it was gathered. Okorocha’s Secretary who allegedly had a baby for Tyler after she was fired from the job made up unaccounted invoices unknown to the management, creating the suspicious transactions that attracted the authorities. But Okorocha believed the issue only needed a clarification rather that the vindictive lengthy legal drama. “I looked at the whole thing and started having that feeling about if I was just targeted because I am Nigerian – if not, why would the law that was supposed to protect me turn against me without considerable grounds?” Okorocha said.

Okorocha’s lawyer, Ali Fazel, an Iranian born criminal defense attorney with a business and finance management background believed that his client was being falsely snarled into an offense committed by someone else. If there was an issue at all regarding KC International, it should have been with a dishonest secretary who was fired for duplicity, the attorney argued. International Guardian obtained an order signed by the United States District Judge, Ewing Werlein, Jnr on April 15, 2014, granting without prejudice a motion to dismiss all indictments against Okorocha.

Okorocha’s exoneration from his indictment was a bitter-sweet experience. “I felt I had won a lottery, but at the same time, I felt my freedom had been put on a hold for almost a year, making life very uncertain and miserable for me” Okorocha told International Guardian. It was completely excruciating. Okorocha’s business was stalled and he lost all his suppliers and customers who had waited impatiently as he battled his indictment. “I have been trying to figure out how many millions I lost from my business during this ordeal, but at the same time, I am still trying to recover from the shock I suffered,” Okorocha said. “I was here dealing with my family – my wife and children who could not understand the complication surrounding my indictment; I was here dealing with a my business which was shut-down abruptly and the phones and faxes and all other communication channels were disabled; my cell phone was ringing off the hook because my indictment was released to the media. Friends, family members, and associates had wanted some explanations about what was going on. I can go all day explaining what life was like during an ordeal that I basically had no control of,” said Okorocha.

K.C. International is a medical and scientific equipment sales and supply company that caters for both consumers and Durable Medical Equipment (DME) companies. “We are not a DME company and do not deal with “Doctor’s Orders,” and government-billing procedures. We are traditionally, buyers and sellers,” Okorocha said. Located on a busy Airport Road on the Southwest side of town, K.C. International stocked with varieties of DME and related equipment items attend to numerous walk-in customers from different medical professional fields including laboratory technology, home healthcare, clinical units and hospital operations. According to Okorocha, not only that we sell these items, we also counsel our DME company owners on ideologies about health business and ethics. For example, those of us who are genuinely in health business are here for the passion to care for others not for profitability. I personally have enough degrees in the medical field to be in better places other than here, but you can see where we are and what we do.”

At the K.C. International, customers who were already aware of latest development walked in to make purchases. International Guardian visited the showroom on April 19 and witnessed a busy outlook. “Most of them are clients coming in just to congratulate me; others come to make enquiries about inventories, but you can see that we are ready once again to start doing what we know best, which is selling, supplying and servicing medical and scientific equipment.” On whether Okorocha would pursue claims against the government over business losses he said, “that is the next option, and lawyers is deciding on that.”