Luz M. Vega, Accountant, Found Guilty Of Health Care Fraud
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico –Today, after 15 days of jury trial before U.S. District Court Judge Gustavo A. Gelpi, Luz M. Vega, Certified Public Accountant, president of Preferred Medical Equipment (PME) and professor at the Interamerican University in Arecibo, PR, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, 24 counts of health care fraud, three counts of Aggravated Identity Theft, 28 counts of payments of kickbacks, and two charges of money laundering, announced United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.
The health care fraud scheme involved Luz M. Vega, Doctor Francisco Garrastegui, Lissette Acevedo, Luisa Nieves and María Elisa Pérez. According to the sixty-count indictment, from on or about April 2010, until on or about March 2011, PME submitted false claims to Medicare, seeking reimbursement for not medically necessary Durable Medical Equipment including: power wheelchairs, power pressure reducing air mattresses, wheelchair accessories, lumbar-sacral orthosis, knee orthosis and hospital beds. PME submitted at least 95 fraudulent claims totaling approximately $210,223.47, causing Medicare to disburse approximately $107,876.73. Defendants Garrastegui, Acevedo and Nieves pled guilty previously. The government will forfeit $107,876.73 and one bank account.
“As part of the nation’s health care system, Medicare serves vulnerable populations,” said United States Attorney, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. “Today’s verdict shows that we will not tolerate criminals who engage in fraudulent schemes which deplete the Medicare program of funds destined for our elderly population, in order to enrich themselves.”
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, with the assistance of the U.S. Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution was assigned to Assistant U.S. Attorney Héctor Ramírez-Carbó and Special Assistant US Attorney Wallace Bustelo. The defendant could face a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison for the health care fraud, and a 24 months statutory term for the aggravated identity theft charges consecutive to any other counts of conviction.