Let's go ahead and just christen it the cocaine trade of the Double-Aughts: Medicare fraud may be a lot less sexy, but it sure is keeping federal prosecutors in Miami busy.
One month after busting up a $21 million, three-state ring, the feds expanded that investigation and charged eight Miami residents -- including the two ringleaders named in the earlier case -- with building a five-state, $100 million scheme.
Here's how it worked, according to prosecutors: The defendants set up six fake medical clinics in Miami-Dade and eight storefront clinics elsewhere in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina, with charming names like Tender Loving Care Medical Center and Eulogia's Diagnostic Medical Center, Inc.
The clinics then filed more than $100 million in false Medicare claims, mostly for "infusion therapy" and outdated HIV treatment.
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The indictment also charges two owners of a local check cashing store with laundering the fake clinics' money, delivering bags of up to $80,000 cash to the clinic owners several times a week.
"This case is remarkable, not only in terms of the amounts stolen from Medicare, but also in terms of its sophistication and geographic breadth," acting U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sloman said in a statement. "These defendants attempted to steal approximately $100 million from the elderly, blind, and disabled."
Here's a list of those charged:
- Michel De Jesus Huarte, 38
- Ramon Fonseca, 45
- Vicente Gonzalez, 38
- Alyd Dazza, 45
- Monika Blanco, 41
- Ricco Dazza, 41
- Orlin Tamayo Quinonez, 35
- Juan Carralera, 56