News and Press Releases

TWO MIAMI-DADE RESIDENTS PLEAD GUILTY TO $21 MILLION HEALTHCARE FRAUD SCHEME

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8, 2010

Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, and Christopher B. Dennis, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Miami Regional Office, announced today that defendants Efren Mendez and Damian Beltran, residents of Miami-Dade County, Florida, each pled guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

According to the facts submitted by the parties at their plea hearings, the fraud involved purported treatment of HIV+ Medicare beneficiaries at Research Center of Florida, Inc. From October 2003 through November 2004, Research Center, submitted $21,043,982 in Medicare claims, almost all of which were for treatment of HIV+ patients. Based on these claims, Medicare paid Research Center $10,944,088. However, Research Center personnel generally administered smaller doses of the medications than Research Center purported in its claims, or no treatment at all.

Mendez was the vice-president of Research Center. At his plea hearing, he admitted that, in conjunction with the clinics President, he decided what claims to submit to Medicare, knowing that the treatment would not be provided. Mendez further admitted that he and the clinics President arranged to pay cash kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries to attend Research Center as purported patients.

Beltran was a medical assistant at Research Center. At his plea hearing, he admitted that he prepared false documentation purporting to have provided treatment to patients that in fact had not been provided.

Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of ten (10) years imprisonment.

Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Osborne.

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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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