The owner and operator of a Houston durable medical equipment company was sentenced to nearly 3 years in prison for committing a Medicare fraud involving fake "arthritis kits", the U.S. Department of Justice informed Wednesday.

The company submitted approximately $846,000 in fraudulent claims to Medicare for rigid orthotics and braces packed together as "arthritis kits" at a cost of approximately $4,000 per kit.

Then the company called B.I. Medical Supply, supplied the Medicare beneficiaries with different, less expensive products that were not medically necessary.

"In one instance, B.I. Medical billed Medicare for an arthritis kit that included two knee braces for a beneficiary who had only one leg," the Department of Justice said in a statement.

In addition to his 33 months prison term, the owner Bassey Idiong from Texas, was sentenced to two years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $527,023 in restitution, the Department of Justice said in a press release.

According to court documents, Idiong paid patient recruiters kickbacks in exchange for the names of beneficiaries for whom bills could be submitted to Medicare.

The Department of Justice said it has charged more than 1,140 defendants who defrauded the Medicare program for more than $2.9 billion since March 2007 in Medicare fraud crack down operations.