Federal Jury Convicts Three Florida Residents In Staged Automobile Accident Fraud Conspiracy In Michigan
The Fraud Ring Operated Three Therapy Clinics in Michigan from 2012 to 2015
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN —Belkis Soca-Fernandez, 47, and David Sosa-Baladron, 41, of Tampa, Florida, and Antonio Ramon Martinez-Lopez, 35, of Port Richey, Florida, were convicted in federal court after a seven-day jury trial of conspiracy to commit mail fraud related to a staged automobile accident ring that operated in West Michigan from 2012 to 2015. The defendants face up to 20 years’ imprisonment and will be ordered to pay restitution to the automobile insurance companies that were defrauded. These defendants are the latest of eight individuals convicted related to the conspiracy. Previously convicted were: Gustavo Acuna-Rosa, 29, and, Eduardo Pardo-Oiz, 34, formerly from Lansing; Dolis Rojas-Lopez, 31, of Wyoming; Yosvany Gonzalez-Duran, 41, of Lansing and Yoisler Herrera-Enriquez, age 31, a massage therapist from Wyoming, Michigan.
"This staged automobile accident ring operated a sophisticated fraud over several years in our community," stated Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge. "The evidence at trial established that Soca-Fernandez and Sosa-Baladron led the conspiracy from Florida using Martinez-Lopez and others as their managers here in Michigan. Martinez-Lopez used others to recruit individuals to stage accidents and falsely claim that they were receiving therapy treatment. Soca-Fernandez and Sosa-Baladron made frequent trips to Michigan form Florida to make sure that fraudulent insurance claims were prepared and sent to the automobile insurance companies, to deposit insurance checks, and to withdraw in cash the proceeds from the fraud. Fortunately, West Michigan is not a safe haven for scam artists. My office vigorously pursues and prosecutes those who cheat our financial and insurance programs."
The staged automobile accident ring operated three therapy clinics, Revive Therapy Center and HH Rehab Center, in Wyoming, Michigan, and Renue Therapy Center in Lansing, Michigan, from April 2012 to May 2015. The ring recruited and paid cash to individuals to stage automobile accidents and obtain police reports so that insurance claims could be made with their automobile insurance companies. The managers of the clinics and others working with them then told the accident participants what symptoms to present to a physician affiliated with the ring so that she would sign a prescription for physical therapy. The accident participants would then seek unnecessary therapy treatment at the clinics. Typically, after a few therapy sessions, the accident participants would sign blank therapy treatment forms that would be signed by massage therapists to make it appear as if the accident participants were obtaining treatment when they truly were not. The therapy clinics then used the treatment forms to send false insurance claims through the United States mail to automobile insurance companies for therapy treatment that was either not necessary or not actually provided.
"Criminal groups often believe they are employing ingenious techniques to cheat the system," explained Steve Francis, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations, Detroit Field Office. "Sadly, we all suffer the consequences when higher rates get passed on to the consumers due to the increased costs of business. HSI will continue to aggressively target these schemes."
"Health care fraud results in economic consequences that impact every American", said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI. "These convictions reinforce the resolve of the FBI, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-HIS Investigations, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Michigan to bring criminals, like those convicted in this case, to justice for their crimes."
Belkis Soca-Fernandez, David Sosa-Baladron, and Antonio Ramon Martinez-Lopez, will be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Maloney at a sentencing hearing yet to be scheduled. The investigation of the case was handled by the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ronald M. Stella and Timothy VerHey handled the trial of this case.