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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chiropractor Found Guilty Of Conspiracy To Commit Health Care Fraud

Fort Myers, Florida - U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that a federal jury today found Dr. Stephen M. Lovell (55, Windermere) guilty of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 10, 2013.

Lovell was indicted in February 2012, along with his co-conspirators Joanna Capote (24, Cape Coral), Francisco Huici Fernandez (40, Cape Coral), Ernesto Diaz (31, Cape Coral), Karen Carmona Jackson (30, Lake Wales), Jeanine Lastres Huici (42, Cape Coral), Marylda Santana (22, Cape Coral), Sonia Arroyo (53, Cape Coral), and Indra Lemus Castellanos (20, Cape Coral). Each of the co-conspirators previously pleaded guilty for their roles in this case.

According to testimony presented at trial, Xtreme Care Rehabilitation Center Inc. (“Xtreme Care”) was operating in Cape Coral as an unlicensed health care clinic since 2009. The State of Florida licensing requirements were circumvented by the conspirators as a result of the purported exclusive ownership of these clinics by licensed health care practitioners, including licensed chiropractor Dr. Stephen M. Lovell. As a result of the purported ownership of the clinics by a licensed health care practitioner, these clinics avoided greater regulatory scrutiny. In actuality, other conspirators including Francisco Huici Fernandez and Ernesto Diaz were the true owners of the clinics.

In furtherance of the health care fraud, the conspirators recruited individuals who purported to be involved in staged accidents and received injuries. These recruited individuals would go to Xtreme Care in exchange for payment. Xtreme Care then billed insurance companies by submitting false claims, through the mail, for purportedly medically necessary treatments that these patients received. However, as the indictment alleged, treatment was either never provided to these patients or was not medically necessary. Upon payment by the insurance company, the proceeds of the fraudulent activity were then transferred to corporations created by the conspirators to launder the proceeds of the criminal activity. Ultimately, the conspirators received the benefits of the fraudulent activity through payments or expenditures for themselves from the corporate bank accounts.

This case was investigated by the Cape Coral Police Department, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the United States Secret Service, Hialeah Police Department, City of Miami Police, Florida Department of Financial Services, along with the assistance of the National Insurance Crime Bureau. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jesus M. Casas.

Updated January 26, 2015