WASHINGTON Ė The owners of two Miami-based healthcare corporations were sentenced to 63 and 56 months for their roles in separate Medicare fraud schemes, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta of the Southern District of Florida announced today.
In two separate cases resulting from the operations of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, defendant Juan Carlos Castaneda, 43, the owner and operator of International Surgical-Med Pharmaceuticals Corporation (International), a Miami pharmacy, was sentenced on March 28, 2008, to 63 months in prison by U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn in federal court in Miami. Jorge Novoa, 71, the owner and operator of Sunny Nutrition Services, Inc., a Miami durable medical equipment (DME) company, was sentenced on March 27, 2008, to 56 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham.
In July 2007, Castaneda pleaded guilty, without a plea agreement, to all counts in an indictment that charged Castaneda with conspiring to pay cash kickbacks to 72 owners of DME companies in exchange for compounded aerosol medication prescriptions. Castaneda billed Medicare for these drugs through International and then kicked back 50 percent of the Medicare payments to the DME owners. At sentencing, the Court found that Castaneda received more than $4.5 million from Medicare and paid $2,040,500 in twice-monthly cash kickbacks to DME company owners as part of the scheme.
In September 2007, Novoa pleaded guilty to all charged counts in an indictment without a plea agreement. That indictment charged that between February 1999 and February 2004, Novoa conspired to defraud the Medicare program through fraudulent claims and kickbacks in which he obtained Medicare cards and personal information from Medicare beneficiaries in order to submit fraudulent claims for unnecessary medical equipment and aerosol medications. At sentencing, the court found that Novoa paid cash kickbacks of $70 to $200 to Dr. Zabdy Westerburger to obtain bogus prescriptions. These false prescriptions called for unnecessary medical equipment and related aerosol medications for the Medicare beneficiaries, who were given either a cursory examination or no examination at all. Dr. Westerburger was convicted of Medicare fraud in 2006.
The Castaneda case was prosecuted by Deputy Chief Kirk Ogrosky and Trial Attorneys John Neal and Nathan Dimock of the Criminal Divisionís Fraud Section. The Novoa case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney John E. Cunningham, also of the Criminal Divisionís Fraud Section and Deputy Chief Ogrosky. Both cases were investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General and the FBI.