Home Health Agency Owner Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Role in Miami Health Care Fraud Scheme

Patient Recruiter Sentenced To Two Years In Prison For Participating In The Same Scheme

A South Florida man was sentenced to 10 years in prison today in connection with a long-running $6.2 million Medicare fraud scheme involving Professional Medical Home Health LLC (Professional Home Health), a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and therapy services, as well as similar schemes at two additional Miami home health care agencies.  A second defendant was also sentenced to two years in prison today for his role as a patient recruiter in the fraud scheme at Professional Home Health.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement.  Chief U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida imposed the sentence.

Ernesto Fernandez, 48, of Miami, pleaded guilty on Nov. 26, 2014, to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  In addition to the 10-year prison sentence, Fernandez was also ordered to pay $2,163,057 in restitution and to forfeit $9,061,867, which represents the proceeds traceable to his criminal conduct at all three home health agencies.  Fernandez has been in custody since his bond was revoked on Jan. 30, 2015, for violating the condition of his bond prohibiting contact with victims or witnesses in the case except through counsel.

According to documents filed with his plea agreement, Fernandez was an owner and operator of Professional Home Heath.  He was also the owner and operator of two other South Florida home health agencies.  At each of these companies, Fernandez and his co-conspirators billed the Medicare program for expensive physical therapy and home health services that were not medically necessary or were not provided.  Fernandez admitted that he caused patient documentation to be falsified, and planned, organized and oversaw the submission of fraudulent claims to the Medicare program.

Fernandez also admitted to being a patient recruiter for all three home health agencies.  In that capacity, Fernandez recruited patients for the agencies in exchange for kickbacks, knowing that the agencies would bill the Medicare program on behalf of the recruited patients for expensive home health and therapy services that were not medically necessary or not provided.

Juan Valdes, 37, of Palm Springs, pleaded guilty on Nov. 10, 2014, to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and receive health care kickbacks.  In addition to the two-year prison sentence, Valdes was also ordered to pay 204,526 in restitution.

According to documents filed with his plea agreement, Valdes was a patient recruiter for Professional Home Health.  In that role, he solicited kickbacks and bribes from the owners and operators of Professional Home Health in exchange for providing beneficiaries to allow Professional Home Health to bill Medicare for home health services that were not medically necessary or not provided.

Fernandez and Valdes are the seventh and eighth defendants to be sentenced in connection with the fraudulent schemes at Professional Home Health.  Dennis Hernandez and Jose Alvarez, both owners and operators of Professional Home Health, were each sentenced to 10 years in prison on Jan. 29, 2015.  Joel San Pedro, a manager and supervisor of Professional Home Health, was sentenced to 97 months in prison on Jan. 29, 2015.  Annarella Garcia, an owner of Professional Home Health, was sentenced to 70 months in prison on Aug. 27, 2014.  Annilet Dominguez, an administrator of Professional Home Health, was sentenced to 68 months in prison on Sept. 29, 2014.  Alina Hernandez, a patient recruiter for Professional Home Health, was sentenced to two years in prison on Jan. 29, 2015.

This case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the 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 Trial Attorney Anne P. McNamara of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,100 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6.5 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.

Four Florida Residents Sentenced to Federal Prison for Roles in $6 Million Miami Home Health Care Fraud Scheme

Four South Florida residents were sentenced today in connection with a long-running $6.2 million Medicare fraud scheme involving Professional Medical Home Health LLC (Professional Home Health), a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and therapy services.  Two of the defendants were also sentenced in connection with their conduct in similar schemes at other Miami home health care agencies.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement.  Chief U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida imposed the sentences.

Dennis Hernandez, 32, of Miami, was sentenced to serve 120 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,438,186 in restitution.  Jose Alvarez, 48, of Miami, was sentenced to serve 120 months in prison and ordered to pay $2,972,570 in restitution.  Joel San Pedro, 45, of Miami, was sentenced to serve 97 months in prison and ordered to pay $4,938,432 in restitution.  Alina Hernandez, 38, of West Palm Beach, was sentenced to serve 24 months in prison and ordered to pay $204,526.05 in restitution.

Dennis Hernandez, Alvarez, San Pedro and Alina Hernandez each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud in November 2014.

In connection with their guilty pleas, each of the defendants admitted that Professional Home Health was actually operated for the purpose of billing the Medicare program for expensive physical therapy and home health services that were not medically necessary or not provided.  Dennis Hernandez, San Pedro and Alvarez admitted to being managers, supervisors, owners and operators at Professional Home Health.  In those capacities, they coordinated and oversaw the submission of fraudulent claims at Professional Home Health, and falsified patient documentation to make it appear that Medicare beneficiaries qualified for and received home health services that were, in fact, not medically necessary or not provided.  Dennis Hernandez and Alvarez also admitted to partaking in similar schemes at additional Miami-area home health agencies.

Additionally, all four defendants admitted to acting as patient recruiters for Professional Home Health.  In this role, they solicited and received kickbacks and bribes from other co-conspirators at Professional Home Health in exchange for recruiting beneficiaries who neither needed, nor, in some cases, received services.

From December 2008 through February 2014, Medicare paid Professional Home Health more than $6.2 million for fraudulent home health claims.

Earlier this year, two other individuals pleaded guilty and were sentenced in connection with the same scheme.  Annarella Garcia, an owner of Professional Home Health, was sentenced to 70 months in prison.  Annilet Dominguez, an administrator of Professional Home Health, was sentenced to 68 months in prison.  Both were also ordered to pay $6,257,142 in restitution.  A sentencing hearing for Ernesto Fernandez and Juan Valdes, co-defendants in the case, is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2015.

This case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the 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 Trial Attorney Anne P. McNamara of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,100 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6.5 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Owner (Requeira) of Miami Health Company Sentenced

The owner and operator of a Miami home health care agency was sentenced today to 106 months in prison for his participation in a $30 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement.

Ramon Regueira, 66, of Miami, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud on Nov. 13, 2014.  In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga of the Southern District of Florida ordered Regueira to pay $21 million in restitution, both jointly and severally with his co-conspirator.

According to his plea agreement, Regueira was an owner of Nation’s Best Care Home Health Corp. (Nation’s Best), a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.  Regueira admitted that he and his co-conspirators operated Nation’s Best for the purpose of billing the Medicare program for, among other things, expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary or not provided.

Specifically, Regueira admitted that he and his co-conspirators paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters who provided patients to Nation’s Best, as well as prescriptions, plans of care (POCs) and certifications for medically unnecessary therapy and home health services.  Regueira and his co-conspirators then used these prescriptions, POCs and medical certifications to fraudulently bill the Medicare program for unnecessary home health care services.

From January 2007 through January 2011, Nation’s Best submitted approximately $30 million in claims for home health services that were not medically necessary or not provided, and Medicare paid approximately $21 million for these fraudulent claims.

The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by 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 Assistant Chief Joseph S. Beemsterboer and Trial Attorney Kelly Graves of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,100 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6.5 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Owner of Miami Home Health Company Pleads Guilty for Role in $32 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

A Miami owner of a home health care company pleaded guilty today in connection with a $32 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement.

Felix Gonzalez, 45, of Miami, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud before U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams of the Southern District of Florida.  A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 19, 2015.

According to his plea documents, Gonzalez was an owner of AA Advanced Care Inc. (AA Advanced), a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.  In connection with his guilty plea, Gonzalez admitted that he and his co-conspirators operated AA Advanced for the purpose of billing the Medicare program for, among other things, expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary or not provided at all.

Gonzalez further admitted that he negotiated and paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters in exchange for patient referrals, as well as prescriptions, plans of care (POCs) and certifications for medically unnecessary therapy and home health services for Medicare beneficiaries.  Gonzalez admitted that he and his co-conspirators used these prescriptions, POCs and medical certifications to fraudulently bill the Medicare program for home health care services.

From approximately January 2006 through March 2009, AA Advanced submitted approximately $32 million in claims for home health services that were not medically necessary or not provided, and Medicare paid approximately $22 million for these fraudulent claims.

The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by 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 Assistant Chief Joseph S. Beemsterboer and Trial Attorney Kelly Graves of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Miami-Area Certified Nursing Assistant Sentenced to 150 Months in Prison for Role in $200 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

A Miami licensed nursing assistant was sentenced today to serve 150 months in prison for participating in a $200 million Medicare fraud scheme involving fraudulent billings by American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC), a mental health company headquartered in Miami.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Florida region made the announcement.

Rodolfo Santaya, 55, of Miami, was convicted on July 18, 2014, after a six-day jury trial, of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, conspiracy to pay and receive bribes and kickbacks, and two counts of receipt of bribes and kickbacks in connection with a federal health care benefit program.  In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez of the Southern District of Florida ordered Santaya to pay more than $18.2 million in restitution.

Evidence at trial demonstrated that, between 2006 and 2010, Santaya was paid thousands of dollars a month in cash kickbacks in exchange for referring Medicare beneficiaries to ATC, which operated purported partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) in seven locations throughout South Florida and Orlando.  A PHP is a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness.

Evidence at trial also demonstrated that the Medicare beneficiaries Santaya sent to ATC did not need, qualify for, nor receive PHP treatment.  Nevertheless, ATC submitted false and fraudulent bills to Medicare for services purportedly provided to each of Santaya’s patients.  In order to justify ATC’s fraudulent billings, medical professionals, including doctors, fabricated and signed fraudulent medical documentation and patient files.

ATC, an associated management company, and more than 20 individuals, including ATC’s owners, have all previously pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial.  Santaya has been in federal custody since his conviction.

The case is being investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Robert A. Zink and Trial Attorneys Nicholas E. Surmacz and Kelly Graves of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Owners of Orlando Health Care Clinic Charged with $3 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Charges have been unsealed against husband and wife owners of an Orlando health care clinic for their roles in a fraud scheme that resulted in the submission of more than $3 million in allegedly fraudulent claims to Medicare.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III of the Middle District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Florida region made the announcement after the defendants were taken into custody last night and this morning.

A federal grand jury in the Middle District of Florida returned an indictment on Nov. 19, 2014, against Juan Carlos Delgado, 58, and Nereyda Infante, 48, both of Orlando, Florida, charging them with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, five counts of health care fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  According to the indictment, Delgado and Infante owned and operated Prestige Medical Services and Rehab Center, a health care clinic that purportedly provided medical services to Medicare Part B and Medicare Part C beneficiaries, and three other similarly named clinics that also purportedly provided medical services to Medicare Part C beneficiaries.

Between February 2012 and September 2014, the defendants allegedly submitted claims to Medicare that falsely represented that medical services were provided, medically necessary, and prescribed by a physician, when they were not.  The health care fraud counts specifically allege fraudulent claims involving Pentostatin prescriptions, an expensive chemotherapeutic medication, that were not medically necessary, not prescribed by a physician, and not provided.  The indictment also alleges that the defendants transferred proceeds obtained as the result of fraudulent claims and diverted them for their personal use.  According to the indictment, the defendants obtained more than $1.8 million in proceeds from the alleged fraud.

The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by the HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Andrew H. Warren of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Principal in $28.3 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison

A Florida owner and operator of multiple physical therapy rehabilitation facilities was sentenced in federal court in Tampa today to serve 11 years in prison for his role in organizing a $28.3 million Medicare fraud scheme involving physical and occupational therapy services.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III of the Middle District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office and Special Agent in Charge Paul Wysopal of the FBI’s Tampa Field Office made the announcement.

Luis Duluc, 54, of Tampa, pleaded guilty on Feb. 3, 2014, to conspiracy to commit health care fraud as well as making a false statement relating to health care matters.  In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew of the Middle District of Florida ordered Duluc to pay $14,424,856 in restitution.

According to Duluc’s admissions in connection with his guilty plea, he and his co-conspirators used various physical therapy clinics and other businesses throughout Florida to submit approximately $28,347,065 in fraudulent reimbursement claims to Medicare between 2005 and 2009.  Medicare paid approximately $14,424,865 on those claims.

Duluc was chairman and president of a Delaware holding company known as Ulysses Acquisitions Inc., which was used to purchase comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facilities and outpatient physical therapy providers, including West Coast Rehab Inc. in Fort Myers, Florida; Rehab Dynamics Inc. in Venice, Florida; Polk Rehabilitation Inc. in Lake Wales, Florida; and Renew Therapy Center of Port St. Lucie LLC in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  This gave Duluc and his co-conspirators control of those clinics’ Medicare provider numbers, which allowed them to bill Medicare for services.

Duluc admitted that he and his co-conspirators paid kickbacks to obtain, and stole, the personal identifying information of Medicare beneficiaries, and that he and his co-conspirators also obtained unique identifying information of physicians.  They then used this information to create and submit false claims to Medicare through the clinics owned by Ulysses Acquisitions.  These claims sought reimbursement for therapy services that were not legitimately prescribed and not actually provided.  Duluc admitted that he and his co-conspirators created and used false and forged patient records in an effort to conceal the fact that services had not actually been provided.

Duluc also admitted that he developed and marketed the “80/20 deal.”  In these deals, Duluc and his co-conspirators submitted false reimbursement claims to Medicare on behalf of Miami-based therapy clinics, such as Hallandale Rehabilitation Inc., Tropical Physical Therapy Corporation, American Wellness Centers Inc. and West Regional Center Inc.  Duluc and co-conspirators retained approximately 20 percent of the money Medicare paid on these claims and paid the other 80 percent to the co-conspirator clinic owners.

When Duluc and his co-conspirators were done using the clinics they acquired through Ulysses Acquisitions, they engaged in sham sales to nominee or straw owners, all of whom were recent immigrants to the United States with no background or experience in the health care industry.  Duluc admitted that he did this in an effort to disassociate from the fraudulent operations of the rehabilitation facilities.

This case is being investigated by HHS-OIG and the FBI and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.  This case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Christopher J. Hunter and Trial Attorney Andrew H. Warren of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Simon A. Gaugush of the Middle District of Florida.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Miami-Area Hospital Chief Operating Officer Pleads Guilty in $67 Million Mental Health Care Fraud Scheme

The former chief operating officer of a Miami-area hospital pleaded guilty today for his role in a mental health care fraud scheme that resulted in the submission of more than $67 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare by a state-licensed psychiatric hospital located in Hollywood, Florida, that purported to offer both inpatient and outpatient mental health services.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Florida region made the announcement.

Christopher Gabel, 61, of Davie, Florida, the former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Hollywood Pavilion LLC (HP), pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga in the Southern District of Florida to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and pay and receive health care kickbacks.  Gabel was charged in an indictment returned on May 8, 2014.

According to Gabel’s admissions in connection with his guilty plea, between April 2003 and September 2012, HP submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare for treatment that was not medically necessary or not provided to patients.  As COO during that time, Gabel supervised HP’s staff at both its inpatient and outpatient facilities, where Medicare beneficiaries were admitted to HP regardless of whether they qualified for mental health treatment, and were often admitted before seeing a doctor.

Gabel admitted that HP obtained Medicare beneficiaries from across the country by paying bribes and kickbacks to various patient brokers.  Gabel instructed the patient brokers to falsify invoices and marketing reports in an effort to hide, and cover up the true nature of the bribes and kickbacks they were receiving from HP.  From 2003 through August 2012, HP billed Medicare approximately $67 million for services that were not properly rendered, for patients that did not qualify for the services being billed, and for claims for patients who were procured through bribes and kickbacks.  Medicare reimbursed HP nearly $40 million for those claims.

Karen Kallen-Zury, Daisy Miller, Michele Petrie and Christian Coloma were convicted at trial in June 2013 for their roles in this scheme.  Kallen-Zury, HP’s former chief executive officer, was sentenced to 25 years in prison.  Miller, the clinical director of HP’s inpatient facility, was sentenced to 15 years in prison; and Petrie, the head of HP’s intensive outpatient program, was sentenced to six years in prison.  Coloma, the director of physical therapy for an entity associated with HP, was sentenced to 12 years in prison.  Kallen-Zury, Miller and Petrie were ordered to pay nearly $40 million in restitution, and Coloma was ordered to pay more than $20 million in restitution.

The case is being investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Nicholas E. Surmacz, Andrew H. Warren and L. Rush Atkinson of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Five Florida Residents Plead Guilty for Roles in $6 Million Miami Home Health Care Fraud Scheme

Five South Florida residents pleaded guilty this week in connection with a long-running $6.2 million Medicare fraud scheme involving Professional Medical Home Health LLC (Professional Home Health), a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and therapy services.  Two of the defendants also pleaded guilty in connection with their conduct in similar schemes at other Miami home health care agencies.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement.

Dennis Hernandez, 32, of Miami, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and Juan Valdes, 37, of Palm Springs, Florida, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and receive health care kickbacks before U.S. Magistrate Judge Chris M. McAliley of the Southern District of Florida on Nov. 10. 2014.  Jose Alvarez, 48, and Joel San Pedro, 44, both of Miami, and Alina Hernandez, 38, of West Palm Beach, Florida, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud on Nov. 13, 2014 before Judge McAliley.  Sentencing hearings are set for Jan. 29, 2015.

According to admissions in their plea agreements, Dennis Hernandez, San Pedro and Alvarez held positions of influence at Professional Home Health, including those of owner/operator and manager/supervisor.  Through Professional Home Health, they billed the Medicare program for expensive physical therapy and home health services that were not medically necessary or were not provided.  The three defendants admitted that they and their co-conspirators coordinated the submission of fraudulent claims at Professional Home Health, and falsified patient documentation to make it appear that Medicare beneficiaries qualified for and received home health services that were, in fact, not medically necessary or not provided.

Additionally, each of the five defendants admitted to being patient recruiters for Professional Home Health.  In this role, they solicited and received kickbacks and bribes from other co-conspirators at Professional Home Health in exchange for recruiting beneficiaries who neither needed, nor, in some cases, received services.

Dennis Hernandez and Alvarez also admitted to participating in similar criminal conduct at additional Miami-area home health agencies.

From December 2008 through February 2014, Medicare paid Professional Home Health more than $6.2 million for these fraudulent home health claims.

Earlier this year, two other individuals pleaded guilty and were sentenced in connection with the same scheme.  Annarella Garcia, an owner of Professional Home Health, was sentenced to serve 70 months in prison.  Annilet Dominguez, an administrator of Professional Home Health, was sentenced to serve 68 months in prison.  Both were also ordered to pay $6,257,142 million in restitution.

This case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the 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 Trial Attorney Anne P. McNamara of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Owner of Miami Home Health Company Pleads Guilty for Role in $30 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

An owner of a Miami home health care company pleaded guilty today for his role in a $30 million home health Medicare fraud scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement

Ramon Regueira, 66, of Miami, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga in the Southern District of Florida to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2015.

According to his plea agreement, Regueira was an owner of Nation’s Best Care Home Health Corp. (Nation’s Best), a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.  Regueira admitted that he and his co-conspirators operated Nation’s Best for the purpose of billing the Medicare program for, among other things, expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary or were not provided.

Specifically, Regueira admitted that he and his co-conspirators paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters who provided patients to Nation’s Best, as well as prescriptions, plans of care (POCs) and certifications for medically unnecessary therapy and home health services.    Regueira and his co-conspirators then used these prescriptions, POCs and medical certifications to fraudulently bill the Medicare program for unnecessary home health care services.

From January 2007 through November 2012, Nation’s Best submitted approximately $35 million in claims for home health services that were not medically necessary or not provided, and Medicare paid approximately $21 million for these fraudulent claims.

The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by 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 Assistant Chief Joseph S. Beemsterboer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.  To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.