LAWFUEL – Legal News Network – R. Alexander Acosta, United…

LAWFUEL – Legal News Network – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent-In-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Brian J. Wimpling, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, announced today that Rita Cardoso and her husband, Luis Delgado, of Miami, owners and operators of several health care related businesses located in Miami-Dade County, pled guilty today before United States District Court Judge Jose E. Martinez in Miami, Florida. Cardoso and Delgado were charged in separate cases with defrauding the Medicare Program of more than 4 million dollars through fraudulent billings for durable medical equipment. Durable medical equipment (“DME”) is equipment that is designed for repeated use and for a medical purpose and include items such as prosthetic limbs, back braces, knee braces, and wheelchairs. Cardoso and Delgado billed Medicare for more than $17 million for the equipment which they allegedly provided to their customers. Cardoso and Delgado were also charged with structuring withdrawals of Medicare funds for under $10,000 to avoid having the banks file currency transaction reports with the Department of Treasury. Cardoso and Delgado also plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud charges in a separate Information.

Between May 2000 and May 2003, Delgado owned and operated Advance Equipment Supplies & Pharmacy Inc., which was a durable medical equipment company. His wife Cardoso owned and operated Millenium Medical Equipment Supplies, Inc. (“Millenium”) and Health Medical Services of South Florida, Inc. between January 2001 and October 2003. In order to avoid having the companies in her own name, Cardoso used nominee owners for her companies. Cardoso and Delgado submitted numerous false and fraudulent claims to Medicare on behalf of their respective companies which sought reimbursement for the cost of durable medical equipment that was not provided, was not provided as claimed, or was not medically necessary. Cardoso, Delgado and other members of the conspiracy fabricated or caused to be fabricated prescriptions stating that Medicare beneficiaries were in medical need of specific durable medical equipment when, in fact, the beneficiaries did not need such durable medical equipment. Cardoso and Delgado purchased patient signatures and fraudulent prescriptions from patient brokers who sold information on Medicare patients who were willing to provide their Medicare number in exchange for cash. These patient brokers were paid approximately $100 per patient for this information.

Cardoso and Delgado in making withdrawals from their respective companies’ bank accounts kept the amounts of checks below $10,000 so that the banks would not have to file a currency transaction report (“CTR”) which is a report that is filled out on a United States Department of Treasury (“Treasury”), Internal Revenue Service Form 4789. A bank or other financial institution is required by federal law to file a CTR with Treasury for each financial transaction that involves United States currency of more than $10,000. Such transactions include deposits, withdrawals, exchanges of currency, or other payments or transfers by, through, or to the bank or other financial institution. Both Cardoso and Delgado recruited other individuals and paid them to cash checks in amounts under $10,000 and turn over the cash to them.

In or around March 2005, Cardoso and Delgado devised a scheme to get money out of properties that Cardoso owned either individually or jointly with Delgado. They agreed to use the identity of Delgado’s aunt, to apply for mortgage loans from lenders and make it appear that the aunt was purchasing properties from them when in reality she was not. Cardoso and Delgado falsified information regarding the aunt’s assets, employment and income were stated in loan applications and related documents. Cardoso and Delgado also used the aunt’s identity to purchase a home for themselves. They obtained approximately $1.8 million dollars from lenders in this scheme.

Cardoso and Delgado face a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment on the health care fraud charges and fines of over $3 million dollars. For the structuring charges, Cardoso and Delgado face a maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. They face a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment and a fines of over $3 million dollars for the wire and mail fraud charges.

Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lois Foster-Steers.

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 http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov/ or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov/ .

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