TALLAHASSEE, Florida — A fiendish Florida heart doctor famed for saving rapper 50 Cent’s life when he was shot nine times two decades ago, admitted performing unnecessary surgeries on hundreds of patients to bilk insurance companies out of at least $29 million.
Dr. Moses deGraft Johnson, a 46-year-old dual citizen of the United States and Ghana, pleaded guilty in a Florida federal court to running the con from 2015 until 2020 in which he subjected at least 845 patients to unneeded heart procedures in order to run up the bill to the insurance company.
Prosecutors said deGraft-Johnson also did significant harm to hundreds of patients by listing procedures in their medical records that he did not perform, running the risk that doctors in the future might follow a mistaken course of medical treatment for many patients.
“deGraft-Johnson’s unscrupulous behavior placed the lives of his many patients at risk while siphoning funds from vital health care programs for personal gain,” said Omar Pérez Aybar, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In 2000, deGraft-Johnson pulled nine bullets out of the rapper 50 Cent after he’d been shot in Queens.
“Got Damn, Doc! WTF. you got my name is this bulls**t for scammer. The f**k wrong with you. Lol,” 50 Cent wrote on his Twitter feed.
In all, prosecutors believe deGraft-Johnson fraudulently obtained at least $29 million – and very likely more — through the scam. Prosecutors are moving to seize his assets in the U.S. and overseas, including luxury vehicles; jewelry; homes in Manhattan, Southampton, New York, Miami, and the Houston area; and more than $1 million in cash.
“The United States will continue to work to recover the ill-gotten gains of de-Graft-Johnson’s criminal behavior, to identify information that will help his victims correct their important medical records, and to identify how he gained access to his victims so we can make sure nothing like it ever happens again,” said U.S. Attorney for northern Florida, Lawrence Keefe.
Authorities say deGraft-Johnson owned and operated Thorvasc PA, a Florida corporation doing business as the Heart and Vascular Institute of North Florida in Tallahassee.
As part of his plea, deGraft-Johnson acknowledged engaging in a scam in which he would perform two invasive diagnostic angiography procedures – one on each leg – on hundreds of his patients, whether medically needed or not.
When his patients returned for follow-up office visits, deGraft-Johnson submitted fraudulent claims to their insurance companies stating he performed athrectomies during the appointments when he did not.
Using this scheme, deGraft-Johnson admits he falsely claimed to have performed over 3,000 of these surgical procedures to clear blockages in arteries in as many as 845 of his patients’ legs He’d then bill $27,000 for each procedure.
Prosecutors say deGraft-Johnson trawled for vulnerable victims by establishing relationships with churches, nursing homes, a hospital, and an outreach organization.
“The United States Attorney’s Office is working to uncover all aspects of the methods he used to identify and exploit his former patients, many of them in underserved communities,” prosecutors said in a statement.
They also said they were seeking to contact patients who had their medical records falsified so they could receive proper treatment going forward.
He pleaded guilty to 56 counts of health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and aggravated identity theft. He faces up to 10 years in prison and will be ordered to pay back all that he stole. Sentencing is scheduled for April 8.