Md. doctor who obtained medical license illegally prompts lawsuits

Officials called it a "willful deception on a massive scale."

PRINCE GEORGE'S CO., MD (WUSA9) - Officials called it a "willful deception on a massive scale."

A man in Prince George's County practiced medicine for years, but officials say he used fake information to get his medical license.

So, how did a man collect 11 aliases, four social security numbers, two medical licenses, and a long list of patients for years before someone puts an end to his scheme?

That’s what patients of Dr. Charles Akoda, whose real name is Oluwafemi Igberase, want to know.

"Very traumatic, very emotional very angry experience," said Jazmine Tinsley. 

RELATED: Accused teen 'doctor' arrested on new charges in Virginia

She said five years ago she delivered her sone after 16 hours of labor. The emotional pain lingers.

"I'm scared of male doctors now, I'm scared to go to the hospitals now,"' she said. "I do not trust them now. I'm angry because I put trust and I put my life and my son's life and trust in the hospital."

Jazmine said she gave birth at Prince George's Hospital Center, and was treated by a man who said his name was "Dr. Charles Akoda."

"What he was doing was causing a tremendous pain to the point where I'm crying and begging and screaming for another doctor," she said. 

She's since learned "Akoda’s” medical license was fraudulent.

Now, she plans to join one of several lawsuits filed against the former parent company of the hospital, alleging the PGHC failed to figure out "Dr. Charles Akoda" was really Oluwafemi Igberase.

Her attorney, Jonathan Schochor calls Akoda's case shocking.

"This is one of the most severe cases I've seen," he said. 

Oluwafemi Igberase was sentenced earlier this year after admitting he misused a social security number to "fraudulently obtain a Maryland medical license."

During search warrants in 2016, officials found "a false social security card in the Akoda name, a false Nigerian passport for Akoda, a false U.S. visa in the Akoda name, and fraudulent or altered documents related to immigration, medical diplomas, medical transcripts letters of recommendations, and birth certificates."

This all could have stopped years ago.

In 2000, a residency program in New Jersey figured out he gave them incorrect information about his identity and kicked him out. 

In 2012, the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services learned he provided an inaccurate social security number when he submitted a Medicare Enrollment Application. 

But according to lawsuits and federal officials, "Akoda" continued to treat patients until 2016. 

He was charged and pleaded guilty in November 2016. 

"I don't feel comfortable at all going to a hospital anymore," Tinsley said. 

PGHC provided the following email:

"We are aware of the lawsuit filed on behalf of patients who may have received care from “Dr. Charles J. Akoda.” We intend to vigorously defend the lawsuit which is based on assumptions and accusations that he was not a trained, licensed medical professional. That is not the case. 

Dr. “Akoda” is the identity used by a trained and licensed physician in the practice of Obstetrics and Gynecology when he delivered his private patients at our facility. Dr. “Akoda” completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He demonstrated the breadth and depth of clinical competence expected of a resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology. He underwent biannual evaluations of his clinical knowledge and surgical skills based on the fulfilling the Core Competencies of residency training. Subsequent to completion of his residency program in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. "Akoda" was Board Certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2014.

Upon successful completion of his residency program, he applied for and was granted medical staff privileges at Prince George’s Hospital Center. A background check performed by an outside source validated the social security number he provided. Throughout the course of his clinical activity at PGHC, he underwent scheduled Focused Practice and Ongoing Professional Practice Evaluations which he completed successfully.

Dr. “Akoda” held physician’s licenses in good standing in the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia. We are deeply committed to high quality patient care, delivered with compassion and an expectation of integrity from every member of our team. We are disappointed that our expectation of integrity was not met in the case of Dr. “Akoda” given his complex, sophisticated identity theft scheme."

WUSA9 reached out to a spokeswoman for Howard University's hospital, but has not heard back.

In other court documents, the hospital attorneys quoted Shakespeare to explain away their own drama, writing "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.' the same principal rings true here."

"To be honest? I think it's ridiculous," Schochor said. 

WUSA9 asked if the Maryland Board of Physicians verifies the validity of social security numbers supplied by applicants. 

Yemisi Koya, a spokeswoman for MBP, said in an email "the Board has not been conferred with explicit statutory authority to verify the validity of social security numbers." 

She added the board uses social security numbers for "identification of applicants and licensees." 

WUSA9 asked if the Virginia Board of Medicine independently verified his social security number.

Diane Powers of the Department of Health Professions wrote in an email "the state accepts primary source verification of identification from official documents such as transcripts from a US medical school or residency program." 

Both boards told WUSA9 they rely on information provided to them by the Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates.  

Koya told WUSA9 "ECFMG is the "entity responsible for vetting the credentials and certificates" of foreign doctors.

"Dr. Akoda applied to the Board for licensure with a SSN issued by the Social Security Administration.  As with each application the Board receives, Dr. Akoda's application and credentials were reviewed according to statutory and regulatory requirements, including verification of his credentials through the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), the primary source of verification for foreign medical graduates applying for licensure. ECFMG’s role and responsibility is to vet foreign medical graduates (FMGs)," Koya wrote.

WUSA9 has filed an open records request to find out what information "Dr. Akoda" submitted to the Maryland Board of Physicians. A request for the same information was declined by the Virginia Board of Medicine. 

 

*Editors note: A previous version misspelled Yemisi Koya's name as "Goya" in portions of the piece.  The word "getting" has been replaced with "vetting" for accuracy.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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