New Indictments, Arrests in Multi-State Health Care Fraud Scheme
On June 24, 2009, Federal agents descended on Miami, Detroit and Denver, as well as other major cities, in a new round of arrests targeting Medicare fraud in those cities. Fifty-three Federal indictments were handed down early in the day by a grand jury in Detroit, and a wave of arrests soon followed. All tolled, the newly indicted suspects are charged with conspiring to defraud Medicare of over $56 million.
The indictments involve fake prescriptions, cash bribes, and stolen Medicare information, including physician identification numbers. As reported in our earlier blog posting, Federal and state government authorities under the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) taskforce have recognized the severity of healthcare fraud in South Florida and have been cracking down on these fraudulent schemes. Heightened enforcement in South Florida forced the group to extend their scheme to Detroit, which has become the latest site for Medicare fraud, and other cities to take advantage of Medicare funds.
According to the indictments, the defendants – including doctors, clinic owners, assistants, and patients – submitted millions of dollars in false claims to Medicare for infusion therapy, injection therapy, and other high-priced medical treatments that are designed to treat patients suffering from illnesses such as HIV, AIDS, and cancer.
“As demonstrated by today’s charges and arrests, we will strike back against those whose fraudulent schemes not only undermine a program upon which 45 million aged and disabled Americans depend, but which also contribute directly to rising healthcare costs that all Americans must bear,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said at the press conference announcing the indictments and arrests.
The suspects identified in the Detroit indictments have clear connections to Miami, Florida. In 2008, it is estimated that that city’s prosecutions account for more than one-third of all Medicare fraud cases nationwide. “In fact, ten of the defendants named in the indictments unsealed today are alleged to have brought their fraud schemes from Miami to Detroit,” reported Holder. “Strike force operations in Miami have seen instances of fraud spread quickly through communities in that area. After we arrested and charged criminals in Miami, their cohorts simply moved their schemes to Detroit.”
All together, strikes forces in Miami, Los Angeles and Detroit have charged 249 defendants for Medicare fraud involving about $600 million in false claims for mostly HIV infusion services and medical equipment.
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