WASHINGTON – Nine Miami residents have been charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud as the result of an undercover operation designed to detect and stop Medicare beneficiaries from taking cash kickbacks for the purpose of allowing providers to bill Medicare for unnecessary services, the Department of Justice announced today.
The nine individuals were charged in a criminal complaint filed today in U.S. District Court in Miami. Jorge Alejandro Gonzalez, Carmelina M. Barzaga-Valladares, Rodney Kevin Robinson, Tony Leon Carter, Orlando Jose Molieri, Lorenzo Holton, Pedro Gonzalez, and Ivan Hernandez, all of Miami, were each charged with conspiracy to defraud Medicare by receiving cash kickbacks in exchange for allowing their Medicare cards to be billed for unnecessary services. In addition, Esperanza Ramudo, also of Miami, was charged with conspiring to receive kickbacks in exchange for providing fraudulent prescriptions. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
The charges arise from the conclusion of an investigation in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation utilized vans wired with video recording equipment to allow patient recruiters to pick up their paid patients and transport them to clinics where the recruiters had prearranged for the patients to receive false prescriptions. The patients were arrested after allegedly accepting kickbacks and signing false medical documents, and were driven directly to the FBI office in the very van that recorded their agreements to defraud Medicare.
The case is being prosecuted by Kirk Ogrosky, head of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force and Deputy Chief of the Fraud Section at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Stumphauzer from the Southern District of Florida in Miami with the investigative assistance of the FBI and the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services. The prosecution resulted from the establishment of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a multi-agency team of federal, state and local investigators in south Florida designed specifically to combat Medicare fraud in South Florida.
Criminal charges are merely allegations and defendants are innocent unless and until proven guilty.