MIAMI-AREA CLINIC OWNER SENTENCED TO 60 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR ROLE IN MEDICARE FRAUD SCHEME INVOLVING MIAMI-AREA HOME HEALTH AGENCIES
Four Miami-Area Nurses also Sentenced to Prison
Yudel Cayro, owner and operator of Courtesy Medical Group Inc., a medical clinic in Miami, was sentenced to 60 months in prison for his role in a wide-ranging Medicare fraud scheme involving Miami-area home health agencies, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today.
U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan also ordered Cayro to serve two years of supervised release following his prison term and ordered him to pay $9.8 million in restitution jointly and severally with his co-defendants and co-conspirators in a related case. The restitution is to be paid to the victim in this case, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
According to court documents, Cayro admitted that Courtesy operated in part to provide unnecessary prescriptions, plans of care and medical certifications, among other things, to Miami-area home health agencies in return for kickbacks and bribes. Courtesy provided the fraudulent medical documents so that the home health agencies could bill the Medicare program for expensive home health services and therapy purportedly for insulin dependent diabetic Medicare beneficiaries. In fact, the beneficiaries did not need and in some cases did not receive the services.
According to court documents, approximately 344 prescriptions for these unnecessary services were issued through Courtesy and signed by Cayro's co-defendant, Dr. Fred Dweck. As a result, Medicare was fraudulently billed approximately $16.6 million for home health services. Medicare paid almost $10 million of the fraudulent claims. Another owner and operator of Courtesy, co-defendant Arturo Fonseca, was sentenced in November 2010, by Judge Jordan to 60 months in prison and two years of supervised release.
Three of Cayro's co-defendants, Miami-area nurses Armando Sanchez, Marlenys Fernandez and Silvio Ruiz were sentenced last week to prison for their roles in the scheme. Sanchez and Fernandez were each sentenced to 30 months in prison. Ruiz was sentenced to four months in prison. Judge Jordan also ordered Fernandez to pay $331,622, Sanchez to pay $602,585, and Ruiz to pay $79,230 in restitution to CMS, jointly and severally with their co-defendants and co-conspirators in a related case.
On Dec. 7, 2010, another co-defendant, registered nurse Sheillah Rotta, was sentenced by Judge Jordan to two months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for her participation in the scheme. Rotta was also ordered to pay $74,164 in restitution to CMS, jointly and severally with her co-defendants and co-conspirators in a related case.
According to court documents, the nurses were engaged in the fraudulent scheme at ABC Home Health and Florida Home Health Care Providers Inc., two Miami home health agencies that were engaged in billing the Medicare program for unnecessary home health services for Medicare beneficiaries. Specifically, the nurses admitted to falsifying patient files to make it appear that these Medicare beneficiaries qualified for two to three times daily skilled nursing visits to purportedly administer diabetic insulin injections. In fact, these Medicare beneficiaries did not need nor qualify for these services.
According to court documents, Sanchez admitted that as a result of his actions, more than $900,000 was falsely billed to the Medicare program; Fernandez admitted to causing approximately $500,000 in fraudulent billings to Medicare; Rotta admitted to causing more than $100,000 in fraudulent billing; and Ruiz admitted to causing approximately $115,000 in fraudulent billing.
Additional co-defendants await sentencing in January 2011, including Dr. Fred Dweck, whose sentencing was continued to Jan. 28, 2011.
Today's sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; John V. Gillies, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI's Miami field office; and Special Agent-in-Charge Christopher Dennis of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami office.
The cases were prosecuted by Trial Attorney N. Nathan Dimock of the Criminal Division's Fraud Section. The cases were investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG.
The cases were brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida and the Criminal Division's Fraud Section. Since their inception in March 2007, Strike Force operations in seven districts have obtained indictments of more than 825 individuals who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $2 billion. In addition, HHS's 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.
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.