Two Florida Men Indicted on Federal Charges Stemming from Health Care Fraud Scheme
Defendants Accused of Filing $1.2 Million in Reimbursement Claims From Federal Employee Health Insurance Plan
WASHINGTON – Russell J. Sveda, 69, and Richard V. Schachter, 55, of Lauderdale-By-the-Sea, Fla., have been indicted for conspiracy, health care fraud, and related charges stemming from a scheme to submit false claims for non-existent medical reimbursements through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Foreign Service Benefit Plan.
The indictment, which was returned in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was announced today by Acting U.S. Attorney Vincent H. Cohen, Jr.; Patrick E. McFarland, Inspector General for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM); Andrew G. McCabe, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and David M. McGinnis, Acting Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s (USPIS) Washington, D.C., Division.
Sveda and Schachter were arrested today in Florida and they made their first court appearances this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Both were named in a 24-count indictment, unsealed today, that charges them with conspiracy, health care fraud, mail fraud, false claims, false statements, and theft. The indictment also includes forfeiture allegations seeking all proceeds that can be traced to the scheme. The defendants are scheduled to appear in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on July 23, 2015.
According to the indictment, Sveda, a retired U.S. Department of State employee, was enrolled in the Foreign Service Benefit Plan, as his health care benefit program, with Coventry as the insurance administrator. Between January 2007 and January 2013, the indictment alleges, Sveda and Schachter attempted to obtain from Coventry approximately $599,000 in reimbursements for overseas pharmacy purchases and $637,000 in reimbursements for overseas medical care, for an approximate total of $1.2 million. The indictment charges that Sveda and Schachter submitted materially false and fraudulent claims and invoices, with most of the claims being submitted under the name of Sveda, in the care of Schachter. The indictment further charges that claims were false in that they represented that Sveda had purchased and paid for prescription medications and other pharmaceutical items from the Stadt-Apotheke Fussen, a pharmacy in Fussen, Germany, and that he had received and paid for health care items and medical services from doctors, hospitals, clinics, and other medical providers in the German cities/towns of Fussen, Bad Liebenstein, Bad Salzungen, Bad Ems, Baden, Schweina, and other locations in Germany.
Finally, the indictment states that after obtaining funds as reimbursements for medical expenses supposedly incurred, Sveda and Schachter used these funds, in part, to help finance joint travel around Europe and to pay for other joint expenditures wholly unrelated to medical services.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.
In announcing the charges, Acting U.S. Attorney Cohen, Inspector General McFarland, Assistant Director in Charge McCabe, and Acting Inspector in Charge McGinnis expressed appreciation for the work performed by Special Agents and analysts from OPM’s Office of Inspector General and the FBI, and Postal Inspectors and analysts with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. They also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. In addition, they acknowledged the efforts of those who are working on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Donna Galindo, Kristy Penny, John Lowell, Jessica Mundi, and Corinne Kleinman, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ted Radway and Diane Lucas, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Cheatham, who is prosecuting the case.