News and Press Releases

MIAMI MOTHER SENTENCED TO JAIL IN $12.3 MILLION HEALTH CARE FRAUD SCHEME

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 17, 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), Office of Investigations, announced yesterday’s sentencing of Isabel Torres, 48, of Hialeah, Florida, on health care fraud charges.

In May 2011, Torres pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, for her role in leading a $12.3 million health care fraud ring involving four Miami-based fraudulent durable medical equipment companies. Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham sentenced Torres to 8 and a half years in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.

According to in-court statements during the sentencing hearing, Isabel Torres used her under-aged daughter to steal from Medicare, she manipulated a relative to hide her own involvement in the fraud, and she claimed that her company provided medical aid to an HIV-positive beneficiary. In fact, however, she stole from Medicare to pay for her cosmetic liposuction and used part of the money to construct a backyard hut.

Torres’ co-conspirators, including several family members, were previously prosecuted. Milena Castellanos, the owner on paper of Brightstar Pharmacy and Torres’ relative, was sentenced to 42 months’ imprisonment in United States v. Milena Castellanos, Case No. 10-Cr-20332. Barbara Martinez, the paper owner of Miami Pharmacy and Torres’ husband’s daughter, was sentenced to 26 months’ imprisonment in United States v. Barbara Martinez, Case No. 10-Cr-20395. Brazny Sotolongo, the paper owner of Ozain Pharmacy, was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment in United States v. Brazny Sotolongo, Case No. 09-Cr-20831. Maria Alvarez, the paper owner of Drugville Pharmacy and Torres’ husband’s sister, was acquitted after Alvarez testified that Isabel Torres recruited Maria Alvarez and assured Alvarez that the company was legitimate, in United States v. Maria Alvarez, Case No. 10-Cr-20292.

Torres’ two daughters, Samantha Carta and Natasha Miranda, pleaded guilty to making a false statement to law enforcement after they lied about Torres’ involvement in the companies submitting fraudulent claims to Medicare. Each daughter received a sentence of probation in United States v. Torres et al., Case No. 11-Cr-20212.

Torres’ husband, Roberto Alvarez, was previously sentenced in the Southern District of Florida to 33 months’ imprisonment in United States v. Roberto Alvarez, Case No. 08-Cr-20492, for his role in laundering the proceeds of health care fraud.

In a separate case brought in the District of South Carolina, Torres pleaded guilty to making a false statement relating to a health care matter, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1035, in United States v. Torres, Case No. 09-Cr-137. Torres received a sentence of probation for her role in a Miami-based company called United Fera.

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

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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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