31 December – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael S. Clemens, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Linda S. Little, Special Agent in Charge, Office of Inspector General, United States Department of Health and Human Services, announced today the sentencing of four South Florida residents who were recently convicted in a Medicare fraud and witness tampering scheme.
Defendants, Lazaro Alberto Martinez, Virgilio Miranda, Alfredo Hernandez Rivera, and Lemay Chang Barcelo, were charged in September 2005 in a nine count superseding Indictment, returned by a Miami federal grand jury, with three separate conspiracies to commit health care fraud, obstruct justice and tamper with a witness, and commit money laundering. The Indictment also charged four counts of health care fraud, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of witness tampering, and sought the forfeiture of $70,000 that was used to attempt to persuade one of the defendants, Chang, to leave the United States during the government’s investigation.
In proceedings today before U.S. District Court Judge Paul C. Huck, Miranda was sentenced to 50 months’ imprisonment and was ordered to pay $2,660,729.25 in restitution to Medicare. Upon his release from prison, Miranda was ordered to serve three years of supervised release. He was ordered to perform 400 community service hours during each of the three years. Judge Huck sentenced Martinez to 34 months’ imprisonment and ordered him to pay $2,660,729.25 in restitution. Martinez, too, was ordered to serve three years of supervised release after his prison sentence is completed, and he was also ordered to perform 400 hours of community service during each of the three years. Judge Huck also ordered the forfeiture of the $70,000 payoff that was delivered to Chang and subsequently seized by government investigators.
In proceedings before Judge Huck on December 21st, Chang was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment and was ordered to pay $2,660,729.25 in restitution to Medicare and was ordered to serve three years of supervised release. The same day, Judge Huck sentenced Rivera to one year and one day in prison, followed by two years of supervised release.
The superseding Indictment alleged a fraud scheme involving two Miami durable medical equipment (DME) companies, AID Medical Equipment, Inc. (“AID Medical”) and Progressive Services, Inc. (“Progressive Services”), both of which were alleged to have been placed into ownership under Chang’s name to conceal the involvement of others, including Miranda and Martinez, in the scheme, which involved the submission of approximately $3 million in Medicare claims.
According to the superseding Indictment, in June 2005, just after the United States Attorney’s Office obtained a court order freezing proceeds of the health care fraud scheme, Miranda and Martinez, aware of the existence of a federal grand jury investigation concerning AID Medical and Progressive Services, tried to persuade Chang, who had been served with a grand jury subpoena, to leave the United States. The Indictment charged that after conversations involving Chang, Martinez, and Miranda, Rivera met Chang at a Shell gas station in Hialeah on June 21st and delivered a $70,000 cash payoff.
In September 2005, Chang pleaded guilty to the health care fraud conspiracy. In October, Miranda and Martinez pleaded guilty to the health care fraud conspiracy and to one count of witness tampering. The same month, Rivera entered a plea of guilty to one count of witness tampering.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of Inspector General, United States Department of Health and Human Services. The criminal case of the four (4) defendants was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Luis M. Pérez. The related civil injunctive case, U.S. v. AID Medical Equipment, Inc., et al., No. 05-21461-Civ-Cooke, was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Ana Maria Martînez. The forfeiture proceeding, concerning the $70,000 payoff, was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Lornette Reynolds.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls . Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on .