South Florida Patient Recruiter Convicted For Role In $600,000 Health Care Kickback Scheme
A federal jury found a South Florida patient recruiter guilty today for her role in a scheme involving approximately $600,000 in Medicare claims for home health care that were procured through the payment of kickbacks.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Shimon R. Richmond of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement.
After a four-day trial, Yamilet Diaz, 50, of Hialeah, Florida, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and receive health care kickbacks and four counts of receiving health care kickbacks. Sentencing has been scheduled for May 9 before U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn of the Southern District of Florida, who presided over the trial.
According to evidence presented at trial, from approximately October 2012 to June 2013, Diaz received kickbacks in return for referring Medicare beneficiaries to Good Friends Services Inc. (Good Friends), a now-defunct home health agency located in Hialeah Gardens, Florida, to serve as patients. The evidence established that Diaz and her co-conspirators caused Medicare to make over $600,000 in payments to Good Friends based upon claims for home health services submitted on behalf of the beneficiaries recruited by Diaz. The evidence further established that Diaz personally benefited from the fraud and received at least $306,800.
This case was investigated by the FBI with support from HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Patrick Mott, John Scanlon and Timothy Loper of the Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Wright of the District of Massachusetts, previously with the Fraud Section.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 14 strike forces operating in 23 districts, has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.