WASHINGTON – Two Miami-area residents who were officers of a fraudulent physical therapy company in Lakeland, Fla., pleaded guilty today for their roles in a scheme to defraud Medicare, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced.
Angel Gonzalez, 43, and Adrian Chalarca, 24, each pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Pizzo in Tampa, Fla., to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
According to court documents, Gonzalez was the owner and vice president of Dynamic Therapy Inc. and Chalarca was the president and administrator of the company. Gonzalez, Chalarca and their co-conspirators purchased Dynamic from its prior owners and transformed it into a fraudulent enterprise. Under Gonzalez and Chalarca, Dynamic purported to provide physical therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.
According to court documents, from fall 2009 to summer 2010, Gonzalez and Chalarca submitted and caused the submission of $757,654 in fraudulent claims by Dynamic to the Medicare program. Gonzalez and Chalarca admitted that they paid and caused the payment of kickbacks and bribes to Medicare beneficiaries in order to obtain their Medicare billing information and used it to submit claims to Medicare for physical therapy services that were never provided. According to court documents, Gonzalez and others also stole the identities of a physical therapist and Medicare beneficiaries in order to submit additional false claims to Medicare. Gonzalez and Chalarca admitted that they knew the Medicare beneficiaries, on whose behalf claims were submitted to Medicare, never received the services billed to Medicare.
Another vice president of Dynamic, Andres Cespedes, pleaded guilty in May 2011 for his participation in the fraud scheme.
At sentencing, Gonzalez and Chalarca each face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
Today’s guilty pleas were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Robert E. O’Neill of the Middle District of Florida; Steven E. Ibison, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Tampa Division; and Christopher Dennis, Special Agent-in-Charge of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations’ Miami Office.
This case was prosecuted by Acting Assistant Chief Benjamin D. Singer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina M. Burden of the Middle District of Florida. The case was investigated by the HHS-OIG, Defense Criminal Investigative Service and FBI, 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 Middle District of Florida.
Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,000 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $2.3 billion. In addition, the HHS 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 .