Maryland Man Pleads Guilty to Attempted Witness Tampering in Relation to Healthcare Fraud Conspiracy

Maryland Man Pleads Guilty to Attempted Witness Tampering in Relation to Healthcare Fraud Conspiracy

            WASHINGTON – Atawan Mundu John, a.k.a., John Mundu Atawan, 46, of Hyattsville, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to attempting to tamper with a witness more than nine years ago during a federal healthcare fraud investigation. He was charged via indictment in December 2014 but remained a fugitive until his arrest three weeks ago.

            The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Acting Special Agent in Charge David Geist, of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal and Cyber Division, Special Agent in Charge Maureen R. Dixon, of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General for the region that includes Washington, D.C., and Daniel W. Lucas, Inspector General for the District of Columbia.

            In February 2014, a federal grand jury charged Florence Bikundi, who owned and operated a home health care agency, with various offenses related to a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud the D.C. Medicaid program. The defendant was employed by Bikundi’s agency as a personal care aide. After Bikundi was arrested, the investigation into her and others continued. As part of its investigation, law enforcement agents interviewed the defendant multiple times.

            On June 12, 2014, one of the Medicaid beneficiaries who received kickbacks from the defendant to help facilitate the fraud placed a recorded call to the defendant that lasted approximately 18 minutes. During that call, the defendant – fully aware of the active federal investigation – instructed the beneficiary to lie to the FBI about ever receiving money or kickbacks. The defendant admitted on the call that paying money to beneficiaries was fraud.  Law enforcement agents confronted the defendant with the recorded call five days later. Before formal charges were brought against him, the defendant fled the area.

            In December 2014, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging Florence Bikundi, her husband Michael Bikundi, Christian Asongcha, five other individuals, and the defendant with various offenses related to the scheme to defraud Medicaid. The defendant was charged with one count of attempted witness tampering. Five of the individuals pleaded guilty to health care fraud, and in November 2015, a jury convicted Florence and Michael Bikundi of multiple offenses after a trial. By June 2016, the Bikundis and five other individuals all had been sentenced while Asongcha, who has never been apprehended, and the defendant remained fugitives.

            The defendant remained a fugitive until July 13, 2023, when he was arrested in Maryland. He has been held without bond since then.

            U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell, who accepted the defendant’s guilty plea, scheduled sentencing for November 3, 2023.  The court will determine the appropriate sentence after considering the sentencing guidelines and other factors.

            The government urges the public to provide tips and assistance to stop health care fraud. If you have information about individuals committing health care fraud, please call the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General hotline at 800- HHS‑TIPS (800 447-8477) or the D.C. Office of the Inspector General at 800-724-TIPS (800 274-8477).

            This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, and the District of Columbia’s Office of the Inspector General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Multiple people from the U.S. Attorney’s Office worked on this case, including former Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lionel A. André, Anthony Saler, and Michelle Bradford, who tried Florence and Michael Bikundi. The case against Atawan Mundu John is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kondi Kleinman with assistance from Paralegal Specialist Michon Tart.

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