WASHINGTON – Miami resident Dilcia Marinez, 57, pleaded guilty today to her role in defrauding the Medicare program and laundering the proceeds of the crimes in connection with a $14 million HIV infusion fraud scheme, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta of the Southern District of Florida announced.
Marinez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering before U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno in Miami. In her plea, Marinez admitted that she was the president and director of G&S Medical Center Inc. (G&S), a Miami health care clinic. Marinez admitted that she entered into an agreement in approximately May 2003 with Carlos Benitez, Luis Benitez, Thomas McKenzie and others to operate G&S as an HIV infusion clinic. According to information contained in plea documents, the Benitezes referred HIV-positive Medicare beneficiaries to the clinic and directed McKenzie to teach the clinic physicians ways to make it appear legitimate services were being provided.
Marinez also admitted that between approximately June 2003 and December 2003, G&S submitted approximately $14 million in claims to the Medicare program for HIV infusion services that were never provided and services that were medically unnecessary. According to information in the plea documents, Medicare paid approximately $9.6 million on the fraudulent claims. In addition, Marinez admitted to assisting the Benitez brothers in laundering approximately $4 million in proceeds from the fraud by making checks out to sham marketing and management companies owned and controlled by the Benitezes.
In a related case, brothers Carlos, Luis and Jose Benitez as well as McKenzie were indicted on June 11, 2008, for their role in a $110 million HIV infusion and money laundering scheme. The indictment alleges that the Benitez brothers were the masterminds of a massive HIV infusion fraud operation throughout South Florida involving at least 11 clinics and that they laundered the proceeds of their crimes. Also, according to the indictment, Carlos and Luis Benitez were the true owners of G&S. All three Benitez brothers remain fugitives, while McKenzie is currently being detained pending an Oct. 14, 2008, trial.
The case was prosecuted by Hank Bond Walther and John K. Neal of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General and the FBI. The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by Deputy Chief Kirk Ogrosky of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and U.S. Attorney Acosta of the Southern District of Florida. Federal prosecutors have indicted 82 cases with 142 defendants in South Florida since investigations opened during the period of strike force operations between March and October 2007. Collectively, these defendants fraudulently billed the Medicare program for more than $492 million.