News and Press Releases

MIAMI-DADE FAMILY CHARGED WITH HEALTH CARE FRAUD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2011

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Christopher B. Dennis, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Miami Field Office, announce today’s arrest of defendants Isabel Torres, 48, and her two daughters, Samantha Carta, 21, and Natasha Miranda, 24, all of Miami-Dade County. The defendants are scheduled to make their initial appearances in court today at 1:30 p.m.

Torres, Carta, and Miranda were indicted on March 24, 2011, and charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349; and health care fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1347. In addition, Torres was charged with numerous counts of identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A. Finally, Carta and Miranda were each charged with one count of making a false statement to law enforcement, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001.

The indictment alleges that Torres installed family members and co-conspirators, including Barbara Martinez, Milena Castellanos, and Brazny Sotolongo, to serve as nominee owners of several durable medical equipment companies in Miami-Dade County, including Miami Pharmacy, Brightstar Pharmacy, Ozain Pharmacy, and Drugville. Torres allegedly recruited her daughters Carta and Miranda to manage the day-to-day operations of the fraudulent companies and to distribute checks to hide the true ownership of the companies.

According to the indictment, Torres, Carta, Miranda and other family members submitted more than $12 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare from four Miami-based companies. As a result of these fraudulent claims, Medicare paid the conspirators more than $5.7 million. Torres, Carta, and Miranda then distributed the proceeds of the fraud for their personal benefit, including, among other things, paying for the installation of a Chickee hut at Torres’ residence and cosmetic liposuction.

If convicted, Torres faces a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment for each count of conspiring to commit health care fraud and health care fraud, followed by a consecutive term of two years’ imprisonment for the aggravated identity theft counts. Carta and Miranda face a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment for each count of conspiring to commit health care fraud and health care fraud, and 5 years’ imprisonment for making a false statement to law enforcement.

Co-conspirators have already been sentenced in United States v. Barbara Martinez, Case No. 10-20395-Cr-Cooke (26 months’ imprisonment), United States v. Brazny Sotolongo, Case No. 09-20831-Cr-Lenard (10 months’ imprisonment), and United States v. Milena Castallanos, Case No. 10-20332-Cr-Lendard (42 months’ imprisonment). Torres’ husband was sentenced to 33 months’ imprisonment in United States v. Roberto Alvarez, Case No. 08-20492-Cr-Seitz, for laundering health care fraud proceeds.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and HHS-OIG. This case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys H. Ron Davidson and Alicia Shick.

An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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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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