WASHINGTON – Six Miami-Dade County residents have been indicted in connection with an alleged $10 million Medicare fraud scheme operated out of Midway Medical, a Miami clinic that purported to specialize in treating HIV/AIDS patients, Acting Assistant Attorney General Rita M. Glavin of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta of the Southern District of Florida announced.
Carmen Lourdes del Cueto, M.D., 65, Roberto Rodriguez, M.D., 54, Carlos Garrido, M.D., 69, Gonzalo Nodarse, 38, Alexis Carrazana, 41, and Alexis Dagnesses, 44, were all indicted by a grand jury in Miami on Feb. 12, 2009, for conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Del Cueto, Rodriguez, Garrido and Nodarse were also charged with conspiracy to launder health care fraud proceeds, as well as three counts each of substantive money laundering. The indictment seeks the forfeiture of assets from all named defendants.
According to the indictment, the three physicians, del Cueto, Rodriguez and Garrido, were part-owners of Midway Medical. Midway Medical purported to be an infusion clinic that specialized in providing infusions and injections to HIV-positive patients. The indictment alleges that the physicians ordered medically unnecessary infusions and injections, and falsified medical records to make it appear that the HIV services were necessary. The indictment also alleges that many of the infusions or injections were never actually provided.
The indictment also alleges that medical assistants Nodarse and Carrazana assisted the physicians in falsifying the medical records to make it appear that the services were needed. As part of the scheme, Dagnesses is alleged to have manipulated HIV-positive blood samples in order to obtain laboratory reports indicating that the patients had illnesses that they in fact did not have.
Del Cueto, Rodriguez, Garrido and Nodarse are further charged with distributing the proceeds of the fraud through a series of financial transactions involving more that $10,000 in tainted funds.
The indictment alleges that the physicians at Midway Medical billed more than $10 million to the Medicare program for services that were medically unnecessary and not actually provided between September 2002 and June 2005. During that time frame, Medicare paid more than $4.8 million on those fraudulent claims submitted by Midway Medical. If convicted on all charges, Del Cueto, Rodriguez, Garrido and Nodarse each face maximum prison sentences of 50 years. Carrazana and Dagnesses face 10 year maximum terms in prison.
An indictment is merely a charge and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney John K. Neal and Deputy Chief Kirk Ogrosky of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was investigated by the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and U.S. Attorney Acosta of the Southern District of Florida. Since strike force operations began in March 2007, 107 cases including 196 defendants have been indicted. Collectively, these defendants are alleged to have fraudulently billed the Medicare program for more than $600 million.