South Florida Doctor Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Illegally Distribute Oxycodone
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Omar Perez, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG), Miami Regional Office, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Adolphus P. Wright, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division announced that Dr. Rodolfo Gonzalez Garcia, 65, of Weston, Florida pled guilty on August 23, 2019, to conspiring to dispense a controlled substance, Oxycodone, before U.S. District Judge Roy K. Altman (Case No. 19-cr-20055).
According to the court record, including the agreed upon factual proffers, from November 2016, through and including September 2018, Dr. Rodolfo Gonzalez Garcia, his wife Arlene Gonzalez, 59, also of Weston, Annie Suarez Gonzales, 35, of Chicago, Illinois, and Fidel Marrero-Castellanos, 57, of Hialeah, Florida and others, used West Medical Office, Inc. located in Hialeah (later named West Pines Medical Office) for illicit purposes. During this time period, the defendants agreed to prescribe purported patients that had been brought to the office by patient recruiters, prescriptions for Oxycodone. They also agreed that patient recruiters could merely bring lists containing the names of purported patients directly to West Medical Office, instead of requiring the patients’ presence. In either scenario, the defendants agreed that the patient or patient recruiters would pay West Medical Office a certain cash amount per patient present in the office or per patient name on a list, in exchange for an Oxycodone prescription. Sometimes, these agreements—money for prescriptions—were directly with the purported patient. The defendants knew that these patients were Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and that filling those prescriptions at pharmacies would result in the submission of claims to Medicare and Medicaid for payment of those prescriptions.
The charged co-conspirators had various roles in the conspiracy. Marrero-Castellanos acted as a patient recruiter, bringing lists and paying cash in exchange for a prescription for the names on his list. Marrero-Castellanos took the patients with their prescriptions to pharmacies, including Medicare Part D participating pharmacies, to fill the aforementioned prescriptions. When he got the prescriptions based on just a patient list, he provided the aforementioned prescriptions to pharmacies, including Medicare Part D participating pharmacies. Sometimes, the patients went to the pharmacies on their own. All of the recruited patients gave Marrero-Castellanos their Oxycodone pills. Marrero-Castellanos sold those pills to others. Suarez and Arlene Gonzalez facilitated the exchange of cash for prescriptions, filled out prescriptions, and in certain instances, Arlene Gonzalez signed prescriptions with Dr. Rodolfo Gonzalez Garcia’s name. These activities occurred even when Dr. Rodolfo Gonzalez Garcia was not in the office. To facilitate the conspiracy, Dr. Rodolfo Gonzalez Garcia provided prescriptions for Oxycodone, even though he did not provide patients with a meaningful consultation or examination commensurate with prescribing oxycodone according to national standards and norms, nor those of the State of Florida, for such prescriptions. As a result of the conspiracy, Dr. Gonzalez Garcia unlawfully distributed Oxycodone.
Dr. Gonzalez Garcia is scheduled to be sentenced on November 8, 2019, by Judge Altman. He faces a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison.
Co-defendants Arlene Gonzalez and Suarez pled guilty to conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks and are scheduled to be sentenced on November 8, 2019, and October 25, 2019, respectively. They each face a maximum statutory sentence of 5 years in prison. Co-defendant Marrero-Casetellanos previously pled guilty to conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and is scheduled to be sentenced on October 25, 2019. He faces a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of HHS-OIG, FBI and DEA. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Gilfarb and Lindsey Lazopoulos Friedman.