Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Christopher Dennis of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations Miami Office made the announcement.
In an indictment returned on Sept. 24, 2013, and unsealed this afternoon, Isabel Medina, 49, and Lerida Labrada, 59, were charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison upon conviction. Together with Mayra Flores, 49, and German Martinez, 36, Medina and Labrada also face charges for allegedly conspiring to defraud the United States and to receive health care kickbacks as well as receipt of kickbacks in connection with a federal health care program, which carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison upon conviction.
According to the indictment, the defendants worked as patient recruiters for the owners and operators of Flores Home Health, a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and physical therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries. Medina and Labrada were also the owners and operators of Miami medical clinics which allegedly provided fraudulent prescriptions to the owners and operators of Flores Home Health.
Flores Home Health was allegedly operated for the purpose of billing the Medicare program for, among other services, expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary and/or were not provided.
From approximately October 2009 through approximately June 2012, Flores Home Health was paid approximately $8 million by Medicare for allegedly fraudulent claims for home health services.
The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. This case is being prosecuted by A. Brendan Stewart of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion. In addition, the HHS 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.