WASHINGTON – A Miami-area doctor, Fred Dweck, was sentenced to 24 months in prison today for his role in a wide-ranging Medicare fraud scheme involving several Miami-area home health agencies, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today.
U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan also sentenced Dweck to three years of supervised release following his prison term and ordered him to pay $22 million in restitution jointly and severally with his co-defendants and co-conspirators in a related case. The restitution is to be paid to the victim in this case, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
According to court documents, Dr. Dweck was the physician at Courtesy Medical Group, a Miami medical clinic that purported to provide health care services to Miami-area residents. The clinic was at various times owned by two of Dweck’s co-defendants, Auturo Fonseca and Yudel Cayro. At his plea hearing, Dweck admitted that while employed at the clinic, he wrote hundreds of prescriptions and signed hundreds of plans of care and medical certifications for Medicare beneficiaries to receive purported home health services. These services included twice or three-times daily skilled nursing visits to provide diabetic insulin injections. Dweck admitted that, in fact, these Medicare beneficiaries were able to care for themselves and did not actually need or qualify for the expensive home health services. Dweck also admitted to having prescribed unnecessary physical therapy services for many of the same Medicare beneficiaries.
According to court documents, the owners of Courtesy Medical Group would solicit and accept bribes and kickbacks from patient recruiters and the owners of Miami-area home health agencies in return for providing the bogus prescriptions signed by Dweck. Those prescriptions would then be used by dozens of Miami-area home health agencies to fraudulently bill the Medicare program for millions of dollars in unnecessary services.
Dweck admitted that in total, from about August 2006 through December 2009, he referred approximately 858 patients through Courtesy Medical Group and other Miami-area clinics for these unnecessary home health and therapy services, resulting in more than $37 million being fraudulently billed to the Medicare program. Of that amount, more than $22 million was actually paid out by the Medicare program to various Miami-area home health agencies. According to court documents, more than $16 million of those fraudulent billings stemmed from prescriptions issued by Dweck through Courtesy Medical Group, of which close to $10 million was actually paid out by Medicare.
Today’s sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Miami field office; and Special Agent-in-Charge Christopher Dennis of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami office.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney N. Nathan Dimock of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The cases were investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG.
The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. Since their inception in March 2007, Strike Force operations in nine locations have obtained indictments of more than 1000 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $2.3 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 .