The apparent holder of a record federal prison term for health care fraud has been named to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General’s Top 10 Most Wanted list.
Ebong Aloysius Tilong, 53, who co-owned with his wife a Houston home health agency, is believed to have fled the United States and currently living in Cameroon, according to the OIG. He was sentenced last fall, in absentia, to 80 years in prison on 11 counts stemming from his role in a $13 million Medicare fraud scheme.
After Tilong failed to show up for his sentencing hearing last October, a pretrial services officer notified U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon of the Southern District of Texas that the officer received a tamper alert on Tilong’s ankle monitor around 7:30 that morning. Several calls, none of which were answered, were made to his cellphone, after which Harmon issued a warrant for his arrest, according to court records. He is designated as a “fugitive” on the court’s online docket.
An OIG spokesman said Tilong’s alleged disengagement of his monitoring device and flight overseas before his scheduled sentencing were among several factors that qualified him for Top 10 status among the agency’s more than 170 fugitives wanted on health care fraud and abuse charges. Other criteria included the large amount of money involved, the complexity of the case, the lengthy sentence and federal prosecutors’ allegation that Tilong attempted to destroy evidence, blackmail a witness and suborn perjury from witnesses, the spokesman added.
After the first week of a two-week trial in November 2016, Tilong pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, three counts of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks, three counts of payment and receipt of health care kickbacks and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. In a separate but related case, he pleaded guilty to two counts of making and subscribing false statements.
Marie Neba, Tilong’s wife and co-owner of Fiango Home Healthcare Inc., was sentenced last August to 75 years in prison—one of the longest-ever terms for health care fraud. At the time, the mother of two young children was suffering from stage IV metastatic breast cancer that had spread to her lungs and bones. Neba has appealed her conviction and sentencing. The appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is pending.
As she did in Neba’s case, Harmon imposed the statutory maximum prison term on each of Tilong’s charge, and then ran them consecutively.