Three Individuals Arrested for more than $2.4 Million in Medicare and Medicaid Fraud
Three individuals have been arrested – one of whom was arrested in Colombia – for more than $2.4 million in Medicare and Medicaid fraud. The defendants in this case allegedly defrauded Medicaid and Medicare by paying and receiving kickbacks and bribes in return for creating and providing false and fraudulent home health prescriptions and plans of care to patient recruiters and causing the submission of false and fraudulent claims.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Pam Bondi, Florida Attorney General, and Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), made the announcement.
Last month, a federal grand jury in Miami returned a four-count indictment charging Dr. Daniel Ronchetta, 77, Chiropractic Physician Assistant John Crowe, 76, and patient recruiter Frank Barrios, 48, for Medicare and Medicaid fraud. The defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, substantive counts of health care fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States and pay and receive health care kickbacks.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Health care providers should generate business by offering their patients superior care. Financial relationships that put profits over patients undermine the quality and care given to patients and ultimately, the integrity of our public health care program upon which millions of Floridians depend.”
“This was a brazen attempt to get away with stealing millions of taxpayer dollars, but thanks to my Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and strong partnerships with federal authorities, these individuals have been arrested and charged,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi.
“Health care providers that offer or accept kickbacks in exchange for referrals undermine both the public’s trust in medical institutions and the financial integrity of federal health care programs,” said HHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson. “Our agency will continue to protect both patients and taxpayers by holding those who engage in fraudulent kickback schemes accountable.”
Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,650 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $4.5 billion. In addition, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
Mr. Ferrer thanked the Florida Office of the Attorney General, Medicaid Fraud Control, and HHS-OIG for their investigative efforts. Mr. Ferrer also thanked the Office of International Affairs, Department of Justice, for their assistance in the arrest of John Crowe. This case, brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagerenesh Simmons.
An indictment is only an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.