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.