Two South Florida Doctors Arrested on Charges of Unlawfully Dispensing Opioids
Two South Florida doctors were arrested on charges related to the unlawful dispensing of opioids.
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, Shimon R. Richmond, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Miami Regional Office, Adolphus P. Wright, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Office, Brian Swain, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, and Ashley B. Moody, Florida Attorney General, made the announcement.
Dr. Victor Hugo Espinosa, 57, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida is charged by criminal complaint with conspiring to unlawfully dispense controlled substances from August 9, 2017 to May 3, 2018. According to the complaint, as the designated physician at East Medical Office Inc., a pain clinic located in Hialeah Florida, Espinosa provided over 1,000 prescriptions for Oxycodone for no legitimate medical purpose in exchange for cash. During his time at East Medical, Espinosa prescribed approximately 119,534 tablets of Oxycodone, which accounted for approximately 99% of all controlled substances he prescribed at East Medical. Many of the patients to whom Espinosa prescribed Oxycodone were brought to East Medical by patient recruiters, who received and then illegally sold all or a portion of the Oxycodone Espinosa prescribed.
Dr. Rodolfo Gonzalez-Garcia, 65, of Weston, Florida, is charged by indictment, along with his wife Arlene Gonzalez, 60, of Weston, Florida, Sucett Lopez, 36, of, Hialeah, Florida, Annie Suarez-Gonzalez, 35, of Westmont, Illinois, and Fidel Marrero-Castellanos, 56, of Miami, Florida. The indictment alleges that between November 2016 and September 2018, Gonzalez-Garcia was the physician provider for West Medical Office, Inc. in Hialeah, Florida. Marrero-Castellanos and others recruited Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries as patients to West and paid Gonzalez-Garcia, Gonzalez, Lopez and Suarez-Gonzalez, and others, for Oxycodone and OxyContin prescriptions.
Each defendant faces a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment. The defendants had their initial appearance today in Miami, Florida before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres. Pre-trial detention hearings have been scheduled, for Dr. Gonzalez-Garcia and Marrero-Castellanos, on February 12, 2019.
An indictment and a criminal complaint are charging instruments containing allegations. Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Today’s enforcement actions were coordinated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division Fraud Section’s Health Care Fraud Unit, the FBI, HHS, DEA, USSS and Florida Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. They were initiated as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian J. Shack and Michael Gilfarb.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 14 strike forces operating in 23 districts, has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion.