News and Press Releases

Medical Clinic Owner Pleads Guilty in Miami for Role in Multiple Health Care Fraud Schemes Totaling Over $20 Million

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 7, 2014

The owner and operator of a Miami medical clinic pleaded guilty today in connection with multiple health care fraud schemes involving the defunct clinic Merfi Corp.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Christopher B. Dennis of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami Office made the announcement.

Isabel Medina, 49, of Miami, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro of the Southern District of Florida to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Sentencing has been scheduled for March 14, 2014.

According to court documents, Medina was an owner and operator of Merfi, a Miami medical clinic which employed physicians, physician assistants and other medical professionals who were authorized by law to dispense prescriptions for home health care services. Through Merfi, Medina and her co-conspirators provided fraudulent home health and therapy prescriptions and other medical documentation to the owners and operators of Flores Home Health Care Inc. and other home health care agencies, as well as to patient recruiters, in return for kickbacks and bribes.

Flores Home Health and these other home health care agencies purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries, but were in fact operated for the purpose of billing the Medicare program for, among other things, expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary and/or not provided.

Medina has acknowledged that her involvement in fraudulent schemes at multiple home health care companies, including Flores Home Health, resulted in losses to the Medicare Program exceeding $20 million.

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.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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