LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Teresa Gulotta-Powers, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Miami Field Office, Melody Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, Atlanta Regional Office, and Amos Rojas, Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Regional Operations Center for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, announced today that a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging defendants Lester Miranda, age 31 of Miami Beach, Florida, Ariel Estevez, age 32 of Hialeah, Florida, Luis Garcia Higgins, age 46, of Sunny Isles, Florida, and Karina Estevez, age 32 of Hialeah, Florida, with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 (Count 1); and substantive health care fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code 1347 (Counts 2 through 22). In addition, defendants Miranda and Ariel Estevez are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h) (Count 23); and substantive money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957(Counts 24 through 34). The defendants are also charged jointly and severally in an accompanying forfeiture count.
The United States Attorney’s Office also filed a related criminal information charging defendant Rupert Francis, age 66 of Davie, Florida, with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Francis has agreed to waive indictment and plead guilty. As part of his agreement, Francis agreed to voluntarily relinquish his medical license to the State of Florida.
According to the indictment, the above co-defendants established a medical clinic in Hialeah, Florida, United Life Corp., which was used to defraud the Medicare program. Lester Miranda owned the clinic. Ariel Estevez oversaw the operation of the clinic on a day to day basis. Karina Estevez, wife to Ariel, helped manage the business and was a medical assistant. Luis Garcia Higgins was the physician’s assistant employed by the clinic and Rupert Francis served as the clinic’s physician. Garcia Higgins and Francis had been employed full-time by the United States Bureau of Prisons. Francis was employed as a staff physician and Garcia Higgins was employed as a physician’s assistant at the Federal Detention Center-Miami until their resignations in April 2006.
Initially, the United Life clinic saw various patients who were treated for a wide range of ailments and complaints. In or around September 2004, the clinic saw an influx of HIV patients, and eventually HIV patients became the only patients treated at the clinic. The clinic stopped treating patients in February 2005. From in or around January 2004, through in or around February 2005, United Life billed approximately $7,785,856 and received approximately $2,042,633 in Medicare reimbursements based upon claims for alleged treatments of intravenous immune globulin medications that purportedly were administered to treat the HIV patients who attended the clinic.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Miami Field Office, the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. This case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher J. Clark.
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 http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.