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 B. Dennis of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations Miami Office made the announcement after the indictment was unsealed.
Mayelin Santoyo, 28, and Jose Martin Olivares, 36, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to receive illegal health care kickbacks, and two counts of receiving health care kickbacks. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison upon conviction.
According to the indictment, the scheme that Santoyo and Olivares allegedly participated in lasted from approximately February 2006 to October 2010. The scheme was orchestrated by the owners and operators of American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC) and its management company, Medlink Professional Management Group Inc. (Medlink). ATC and Medlink were Florida corporations headquartered in Miami. ATC operated purported partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness, in seven different locations throughout South Florida and Orlando. Both corporations have been defunct since their owners were arrested in October 2010.
The indictment alleges that Santoyo and Olivares served as patient brokers who provided ineligible patients to ATC in exchange for kickbacks in the form of checks and cash. The amount of the kickback was based on the number of days each recruited patient spent at ATC. Throughout the course of the ATC conspiracy, millions of dollars in kickbacks were paid in exchange for Medicare beneficiaries who did not qualify for PHP services and who attended treatment programs that were not legitimate PHPs so that ATC could bill Medicare for the medically unnecessary services. According to court filings, to obtain the cash required to support the kickbacks, the co-conspirators laundered millions of dollars of payments from Medicare.
ATC, Medlink, and various owners, managers, doctors, therapists, patient brokers and marketers of ATC and Medlink have pleaded guilty or have been convicted at trial. In September 2011, ATC owner Lawrence Duran was sentenced to 50 years in prison for his role in orchestrating and executing the scheme to defraud Medicare.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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 Anne P. McNamara and Robert A. Zink of the 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.