Owner of Pharmaceutical Wholesale Company Pleads Guilty to Medicare Fraud
WASHINGTON – The owner and operator of HME Solutions Inc., dba Lifecare Medical (Lifecare Medical), a licensed pharmaceutical wholesale company in Miami, pleaded guilty today to defrauding the Medicare program in connection with a $5.3 million HIV-infusion fraud scheme, Acting Assistant Attorney General Rita M. Glavin of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta of the Southern District of Florida announced.
Harold Sio, 33, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering before U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro in Miami. At the plea hearing, Sio admitted that between August 2004 and November 2006, he conspired with Juan A. Marrero and Orlando Pascual Jr., the owners of Medcore Group LLC (Medcore), to commit health care fraud and launder the proceeds of that health care fraud.
In his plea, Sio admitted that he supplied pharmaceuticals to Marrero and Pascual for the purpose of committing Medicare fraud. Sio also admitted providing invoices that documented huge quantities of pharmaceuticals, which were received by Medcore, when in fact he only delivered small amounts. Sio acknowledged that he accepted payment from Marrero and Pascual then returned cash to them so that the cash could ultimately be used to pay patients. Marrero and Pascual pleaded guilty in January 2009 to Medicare fraud and are scheduled for sentencing on April 3, 2009. Sio is scheduled to be sentenced on March 24, 2009.
In pleading guilty, Marrero and Pascual both admitted that they falsely billed Medicare more than $5.3 million for unnecessary infusion treatments. Both Marrero and Pascual acknowledged that all the patients who received injections or infusions at Medcore were paid cash kickbacks to induce them to visit to the clinic.
Marrero and Pascual acknowledged that clinic employees intentionally manipulated patients’ blood samples to make the patients’ need for treatment appear legitimate, when in fact it was not, as well as to make the patients' medical files appear legitimate. According to court documents, physicians, a physician's assistant and phlebotomists, were used by Marrero and Pascual to help facilitate the scheme.
Four co-defendants in the case are scheduled for trial beginning Feb. 23, 2009, in the Southern District of Florida. An indictment is merely a charge, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy Chief Kirk Ogrosky, Assistant Chief John S. (Jay) Darden, and Trial Attorney Charles Reed of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General and FBI. The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force (MFSF), supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and U.S. Attorney Acosta of the Southern District of Florida. Since the inception of MFSF operations, federal prosecutors have indicted 106 cases with 190 defendants in both Los Angeles and Miami. Collectively, these defendants fraudulently billed the Medicare program for more than half a billion dollars.