Several patient recruiters, including a medical clinic owner, were sentenced today for their participation in a health care fraud scheme involving Flores Home Health Care Inc., a defunct home health care company.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Acting Special Agent in Charge Brian P. Martens of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations Miami Office made the announcement.
Lerida Labrada, 59; Mayra Flores, 49; and German Martinez, 36, all of Miami, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro of the Southern District of Florida to serve 37 months, 24 months, and 24 months in prison, respectively. In addition to their prison terms, all of the defendants were sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay between $200,000 and $400,000 in restitution.
On Jan. 7, 2014, Labrada pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and Flores and Martinez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and receive health care kickbacks.
According to court documents, the defendants worked as patient recruiters for the owners and operators of Flores Home Health, a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and physical therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries. Labrada also owned and operated a Miami medical clinic that provided fraudulent prescriptions to patient recruiters and to the owners and operators of Flores Home Health.
The defendants would recruit patients for Flores Home Health and would solicit and receive kickbacks and bribes from the owners and operators of Flores Home Health in return for allowing the company to bill the Medicare program on behalf of the recruited Medicare patients. These Medicare beneficiaries were billed for home health care and therapy services that were not medically necessary and/or were not provided.
From approximately October 2009 through approximately June 2012, Flores Home Health was paid approximately $8 million by Medicare for fraudulent claims for home health services.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division's Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney A. Brendan Stewart of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5.5 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with 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