MIAMI-AREA PHARMACY OWNER PLEADS GUILTY TO ROLE IN $1.6 MILLION MEDICARE FRAUD SCHEME
A Miami-area pharmacy owner pleaded guilty today to submitting almost $1.6 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, 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.
Tamara Esponda, 47, of Miami, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn of the Southern District of Florida to one count of health care fraud. Sentencing has been scheduled for Nov. 13, 2015.
Esponda owned Biomax Pharamcy Inc. In connection with her guilty plea, Esponda admitted that, between October 2012 and September 2013, Biomax Pharmacy submitted almost $1.6 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare for prescription drugs that were not prescribed by physicians, not medically necessary, not purchased by Biomax Pharmacy and not provided to Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare paid 100 percent of the claims.
According to Esponda’s admissions, she and her accomplices stole or illegally paid for unique identifying information of Medicare beneficiaries, and used this information to submit the fraudulent claims. Esponda also admitted that she controlled Biomax Pharmacy’s bank accounts, and that she transferred the payments received from Medicare to herself and her accomplices.
This case is being investigated by the FBI and 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 of the Southern District of Florida. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Timothy P. Loper of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged over 2,300 defendants who collectively have billed the Medicare program for over $7 billion. In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-Office of Inspector General, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Team, go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.