Unlicensed Miami Clinic Nurse Convicted at Trial and Sentenced for Role in $11 Million HIV Infusion Fraud Scheme

An unlicensed nurse who fled after being charged in 2008 and was captured this year was sentenced today to serve 108 months in prison for her role in a fraud scheme that resulted in more than $11 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.
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 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations Miami Office made the announcement.
Carmen Gonzalez, 39, of Cape Coral, Fla.,  worked at St. Jude Rehabilitation Center, a fraudulent HIV infusion clinic in Miami, that was controlled by her cousins, Jose, Carlos and Luis Benitez, aka the Benitez Brothers.   Gonzalez was also sentenced for failing to appear at a June 2008 bond hearing.    The sentencing follows her conviction at trial to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States to cause the submission of false claims and to pay health care kickbacks and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.    Gonzalez had previously pleaded guilty to a separate charge of failure to appear.
Gonzalez was sentenced by Chief United States District Judge Federico A. Moreno in Miami, who also sentenced her to  serve three years of supervised release.
Evidence at trial revealed that Gonzalez was an unlicensed nurse who paid thousands of dollars over a five month period to HIV beneficiaries so that St. Jude could submit millions of dollars in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare.   Gonzalez knew that St. Jude billed millions of dollars to Medicare for expensive HIV infusion therapy that was neither medically necessary nor provided.    Gonzalez fabricated patient medical records to facilitate and conceal the fraud, and these fabricated records were utilized to support the false and fraudulent claims submitted to Medicare on behalf of St. Jude.
On Oct. 17, 2013, Gonzalez pleaded guilty to knowingly and willfully failing to appear at a June 2008 hearing as directed by Judge Moreno.    Court documents reveal that Gonzalez was released on bond pending trial, but she knowingly and willfully failed to appear as directed by the court to a June 2008 hearing.
In January 2013, Gonzalez’s father, Enrique Gonzalez, was sentenced to 70 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga in the Southern District of Florida for his role in separate health care fraud conspiracy.
The Benitez Brothers remain fugitives.    Anyone with information regarding their whereabouts is urged to contact HHS-OIG at 202-619-0088.
The 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 was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Allan Medina and Nathan Dimock 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 more than 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5.5 billion.    In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with 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 .

Axius CEO Roland Kaufmann Sentenced for Conspiracy to Pay Bribes in Stock Sales

Roland Kaufmann, CEO of Axius Inc., was sentenced today to serve 16 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to bribe purported stock brokers and manipulate the stock of a company he controlled, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch.

Kaufmann, 60, a Swiss citizen, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in the Eastern District of New York.  In addition to his prison term, Kaufmann was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a fine of $450,000.

Kaufmann pleaded guilty in January 2013 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Travel Act in connection with a scheme to bribe stock brokers to purchase the common stock of a company he controlled and to manipulate its stock price.  As part of his plea agreement, Kaufmann forfeited $298,740 gained through this crime.

According to court documents, Kaufmann controlled Axius, Inc., a purported holding company and business incubator located in Dubai.  As part of the scheme, the defendant and his co-conspirator, Jean Pierre Neuhaus, enlisted the assistance of an individual who they believed had access to a group of corrupt stock brokers, but who was, in fact, an undercover law enforcement agent.  Court documents reveal that they instructed the undercover agent to direct brokers to purchase Axius shares in return for a secret kickback of approximately 26 to 28 percent of the share price.  Kaufman and Neuhaus also instructed the undercover agent as to the price the brokers should pay for the stock and that the brokers were to refrain from selling the Axius shares they purchased on behalf of their clients for a one-year period.  By preventing sales of Axius stock, Kaufmann and Neuhaus intended to maintain the fraudulently inflated share price for Axius stock.

Jean Pierre Neuhaus has pleaded guilty and been sentenced for his role in the scheme.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Justin Goodyear of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ilene Jaroslaw, with assistance from Fraud Section Trial Attorney Nathan Dimock.  The case was investigated by the FBI New York Field Office and the Internal Revenue Service New York Field Office.  The Department also recognizes the substantial assistance of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

This prosecution was the result of efforts by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants.