Owners of Fraudulent Lakeland, Florida, Physical Therapy Company Sentenced to 42 and 46 Months in Prison
WASHINGTON – Miami-area residents Angel Gonzalez and Jorge Zamora, who were the owners and operators of a fraudulent physical therapy company in Lakeland, Fla., were sentenced yesterday and today to 42 months in prison and 46 months in prison, respectively, for their leading roles in a scheme to defraud Medicare, announced the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore of the Middle District of Florida also sentenced Gonzalez and Zamora to three years of supervised release following their prison terms and ordered them to pay $82,765.84in restitution, jointly and severally with their co-defendants.
On June 10, 2011, Gonzalez, 43, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Pizzo in Tampa, Fla., to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Zamora, 48, pleaded guilty before Judge Pizzo on July 14, 2011, to the same charge.
In pleading guilty, Gonzalez and Zamora admitted they were the owners and operators of Dynamic Therapy Inc. According to court documents, Gonzalez, Zamora and their co-conspirators purchased Dynamic from its prior owners and transformed it into a fraudulent enterprise that purported to provide physical therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.
From fall 2009 to summer 2010, Gonzalez and Zamora submitted and caused the submission of $757,654 in fraudulent claims by Dynamic to the Medicare program. Gonzalez and his co-conspirators paid and caused the payment of kickbacks and bribes to Medicare beneficiaries in order to obtain their Medicare billing information and used it to submit claims to Medicare for physical therapy services that were never provided. According to court documents, Gonzalez, Zamora and others also stole the identities of a physical therapist and Medicare beneficiaries to submit additional false claims to Medicare. In pleading guilty, Gonzalez and Zamora admitted that they knew the Medicare beneficiaries, on whose behalf claims were submitted to Medicare, never received the services billed to Medicare.
All five defendants charged in the Dynamic Therapy fraud scheme have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to prison terms for their roles in the fraud scheme. On Aug. 29, 2011, Andres Cespedes was sentenced to 21 months in prison; on Sept. 19, 2011, Adrian Chalarca was sentenced to 24 months in prison; on Oct. 11, 2011, Ariel Chong was sentenced to six months in prison.
The sentences were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Robert E. O’Neill of the Middle District of Florida; Steven E. Ibison, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Tampa Division; and Christopher Dennis, Special Agent-in-Charge of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations’ Miami Office.
This case was prosecuted by Acting Assistant Chief Benjamin D. Singer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina M. Burden of the Middle District of Florida. The case was investigated by the HHS-OIG, Defense Criminal Investigative Service and FBI, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.
Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,140 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $2.9 billion. In addition, the HHS 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 .