WASHINGTON – The owner of a Miami health care agency pleaded guilty today for his participation in a $60 million home health Medicare fraud scheme, announced the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Rodolfo Nieto Jr., 40, of Miami, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga in the Southern District of Florida to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to receive health care kickbacks.
According to the court documents, Nieto was the owner and operator of Ronat Home Health Care Inc. According to court documents, during the time of the conspiracy, Ronat was a Florida home health “staffing agency” that purported to provide home health care and physical therapy services to eligible Medicare beneficiaries. Ronat subsequently became a home health agency.
According to court documents, from approximately January 2006 to approximately November 2009, Nieto accepted kickbacks in return for recruiting Medicare beneficiaries to be placed at Nany Home Health Inc., a Miami home health agency that purported to provide home health care and physical therapy services to eligible Medicare beneficiaries. The owners and operators of Nany paid Nieto kickbacks in return for allowing Nany to bill the Medicare program on behalf of the patients Nieto had recruited through Ronat. Specifically, as part of the scheme, Nany billed Medicare for home health services purportedly provided by Ronat.
In a related case, on April 25, 2012, Roberto Gonzalez and Olga Gonzalez, president and vice president of Nany, and their son, Fabian Gonzalez, all of whom operated Nany, were sentenced to 120, 87 and 87 months in prison, respectively, following their Dec. 19, 2011, guilty pleas to one count each of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. From approximately January 2006 through November 2009, Roberto, Olga and Fabian Gonzalez and their co-conspirators submitted approximately $60 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare, and Medicare paid approximately $40 million on those claims.
At sentencing, scheduled for Oct. 23, 2012, Nieto faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss.
The plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Jeffrey C. Mazanec, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent-in-Charge Christopher B. Dennis of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Joseph S. Beemsterboer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, and 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 Southern District of Florida.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,330 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $4 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is 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.