West Palm Beach Brothers Sentenced to Prison and Ordered to Forfeit Property Following Mail Fraud and Money Laundering Convictions
West Palm Beach brothers Janio Vico and Jharildan Vico were sentenced to 108 months in federal prison, the forfeiture of $1.87 million and restitution in the amount of $1.92 million, following their mail fraud and money laundering convictions.
Wifredo Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
Janio Vico, 32, and Jharildan Vico, 34, both of West Palm Beach, were sentenced by United States District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg in West Palm Beach, following their trial before a jury resulting in guilty verdicts on the 16-count indictment charging conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Sections 1349 and 1341; as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1956(h) and 1957.
According to statements made in court and documents filed in the case, the Vicos established and operated an unlicensed health care clinic known as V & V Rehabilitation Center, Inc., originally located in Lantana and moved to West Palm Beach, for the purpose of defrauding at least 15 automobile insurance companies by submitting claims for personal injury protection (PIP). During a 20 month period, beginning December 2009, through at least October 4, 2011, the brothers received approximately $1.87 million in payments from automobile insurers for relying upon these fraudulent claims that were, in part, based upon staged accidents, real accidents resulting in no injuries, false documents submitted for non-existent treatment, and claims made through an unlicensed clinic. The scheme came about because the Vico brothers were paying claimants to appear at their clinic known as V & V Rehabilitation Center. Much of the money received from the insurance companies was diverted to the brothers’ accounts for their personal use.
Janio Vico and Jharildan Vico each used a portion of the more than $1.2 million transferred from the clinic accounts to accounts they controlled for their personal use to buy residential property, amongst other things.
The Vico brothers claimed that formerly licensed chiropractor co-conspirator, Jennifer Adams, was the owner of V & V Rehabilitation Center Inc., in order to avoid obtaining a license and evade the scrutiny of the Florida Department of Health. The evidence at trial showed that Janio Vico and Jharildan Vico were the true owners of the clinic which was unlicensed during time period charged. According to State of Florida laws, because the Vico brothers were the true owners and did not get a license in their names, the clinic was unlicensed and the claims to insurance companies were illegal.
During the course of the fraud, the Vico brothers purchased at least two residences using moneys obtained through their fraud. After a hearing to determine whether forfeiture of money and properties should occur in this case, the court entered a preliminary order of forfeiture as part of their sentences that requires that both Janio Vico and Jharildan Vico forfeit $1.87 million together with residences at 610 Cresta Circle, West Palm Beach and 669 Pacific Grove Drive, Unit #3, West Palm Beach.
This prosecution was the latest in the ongoing investigation of clinics established in the Palm Beaches to fraudulently bill automobile insurance companies for PIP claims in Operation Sledgehammer. As a result of that investigation, more than 100 individuals have been prosecuted for similar offenses. PIP provides $10,000 of insurance to individuals injured during automobile accidents in Florida regardless of blame, relying upon truthful submission of diagnosis, treatment orders and actual treatment documents provided to the insurance companies. Each time fraudulent claims are submitted, the price of automobile insurance is affected, resulting in higher premiums.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the assistance of the National Insurance Crime Bureau. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ellen Cohen.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.