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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Detroit Clinic Manager Sentenced to 63 Months in Prison for Role in $2.3 Million Medicare Infusion Fraud Scheme

Miami-Dade County resident Dulce Briceño was sentenced today to 63 months in prison for her role in a $2.3 million Medicare fraud scheme, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade; Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG), Chicago Regional Office.

U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro in the Southern District of Florida also ordered Briceño to pay $1.8 million in restitution. Briceño was originally charged by indictment in the Eastern District of Michigan, but after her arrest in Miami, she consented to have her case transferred to the Southern District of Florida for her plea and sentencing.

Briceño pleaded guilty on Oct. 9, 2009, at which time she admitted that in approximately September 2006, she agreed with the owners of X-Press Center to manage the clinic on a day-to-day basis in exchange for a percentage of the profits the clinic generated. Briceño also admitted that during the time the clinic was open, the clinic routinely billed the Medicare program for services that were medically unnecessary or were never provided. Briceño admitted that she and her co-conspirators at the clinic had purchased only a small fraction of the medications that the clinic billed the Medicare program for providing.

Briceño admitted that Medicare beneficiaries were not referred to X-Press Center by their primary care physicians, or for any other legitimate medical purpose, but rather were recruited to come to the clinic through the payment of kickbacks. In exchange for those kickbacks, Briceño admitted that the Medicare beneficiaries would visit the clinic and sign documents indicating that they had received the services billed to Medicare. Kickbacks paid to Medicare beneficiaries at the clinic, according to plea documents, came in the form of cash and prescriptions for narcotic drugs.

Briceño also admitted that between approximately September 2006 and March 2007, she and her co-conspirators at X-Press Center caused the submission of approximately $2.3 million in false and fraudulent claims to the Medicare program for services purportedly provided at X-Press Center. Medicare paid approximately $1.8 million on those claims.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney John K. Neal and Trial Attorney Benjamin D. Singer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG. The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Since their inception in March 2007, Strike Force operations in seven districts have obtained indictments of more than 500 individuals who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $1 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov

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