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Opinions of Sunday, 7 September 2014

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

FBI Closes In On Ghanaian Doctor

.... May Be Guilty Of Medical Fraud Abetment

There is this story widely circulating in the American media about a medically trained but unlicensed Ghanaian doctor who has been convicted of having stolen the professional license of Dr. Arthur Kennedy to practice medicine in the State of South Carolina (See "Man Accused of Fraudulently Treating Hundreds of SC Patients Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge " FOX NEWS / Associated Press 3/4/14).

The story is nearly six months old, that is starting from the conviction of 51-year-old Dr. Ernest Osei-Addo. It is a rather intriguing story because it is a practice that is quite widely known here in the United States in some circles, although it is officially illegal. The routine has been that a medically trained doctor who has been either unable to pass his/her medical practice certification examination - often called Board Exams - or has yet to sit for and pass the same, may decide to work under another doctor who is already Board Certified as an assistant and/or apprentice.

I strongly suspect that Dr. Osei-Addo did not really steal Dr. Kennedy's medical-practice license but rather is trying to protect his "benevolent" friend. The two men are widely reported to have been friends for quite sometime now. Interestingly, though, the highly political Dr. Kennedy's middle name of "Kobina" is not mentioned in the afore-referenced news report. The circumstances surrounding the story are also rather shady, in that it covers a period during which Dr. Kennedy was out of the United States and was presumably politicking and teaching in Ghana, for about two years at the University of Cape Coast.

The context of the story is shady because unlike the traditionally known practice of culprits of stolen identities, Dr. Osei-Addo had actually met and befriended the man whose identity he stands convicted of having stolen at a political rally in Ghana, we are told. He is presently facing a two-year's prison sentence and fines of up to $250,000 (Two-Hundred-And-Fifty-Thousand Dollars). According to U.S. Federal Attorney DeWayne Pearson, both Drs. Arthur Kennedy and Ernest Osei-Addo "planned to open a medical clinic [together here] in the United States."

Anyway, here is a part of the story, as narrated by the Associated Press: "Kennedy gave Addo documentation of his [Kennedy's] own medical training but remained in Ghana to teach. Using Kennedy's information, prosecutors said [that] Addo obtained a South Carolina driver's license and created an online profile with a physician employment agency, which placed [Dr. Osei-Addo] for a short time at a job in Greenwood. Addo also later worked for a facility operated by the South Carolina Department of Mental Health before being matched with Agape Senior Primary Care."

Further FOX NEWS's story adds that "Addo attended medical school in Belize [Central America], but [U.S. Federal Prosecutor] Pearson said that authorities could not independently confirm [whether or not] he had passed medical board examinations there."

Well, the most logical interpretation here is that it clearly appears that Drs. Kennedy and Osei-Addo had known each other for a remarkable period of time, else there is absolutely no reason why Dr. Kennedy would have given Dr. Osei-Addo details of the former's medical practice license and other documents, unless the owner of the said documents intended to gain some benefit or favor from doing so. On the whole, Dr. Osei-Addo has not been charged with any medical malpractice or harmful treatment of patients, but he has been charged with "fraud allegations relating to Medicaid and Medicare billings... submitted for patients treated by Dr. Addo" totalling nearly a half-million dollars.

What makes this case appear to be more than its face value or reportage, is the fact that Dr. Osei-Addo may never have been arrested for the illegitimate use of his friend's medical-practice license, except for the fact that "[Dr.] Kennedy's wife received a statement for a credit card that had been opened in her husband's name. She confronted Addo, who [promptly] admitted" to having stolen the identity of Dr. Kennedy's.

Now, this aspect of the story is rather intriguing, since in typical stolen identity cases the alleged victim often has no knowledge of either the real identity or whereabouts of the suspect. Dr. Osei-Addo is also reported to have twice filed for bankruptcy, perhaps a situation resulting from huge medical school bills and/or a lavish style of living which was well beyond his means. At any rate, the quite obviously real story here is that Dr. Kennedy ceded his professional practice license to Dr. Osei-Addo while he tested the political waters in Ghana, with the mutual agreement of both men sharing whatever profits accrued from the use of Dr. Kennedy's medical-practice license by Dr. Osei-Addo.

The FBI and other concerned authorities may well need to explore this angle of the story, if the unalloyed truth is to be uncovered. Ultimately, this case may well turn out to be an epic Mafia-style scam of un-Ghanaian proportions.

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D. Garden City, New York Sept. 6, 2014 E-mail: _________________________________________________________

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