LAWFUEL – US Healthcare Law News – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, announced today the unsealing of an indictment charging ten individuals in connection with a $5.5 million health care fraud and money laundering scheme.
Charged in the indictment are defendants Raul Rodriguez, Armando Arias, Carlos Enrique Monteagudo, Alain Rhaf Vega, Marisol Gonzalez-Torres, Edith Balog, Leonel Galdos, Jr., William Balladares, Yulen Arderi and Jannette Morales. The defendants are charged in connection with a systematic effort to defraud the Medicare program through a series of durable medical equipment companies and HIV medical clinics that operated in Miami from 2004 through 2005. Rodriguez, Arias, Monteagudo, Vega, Gonzalez-Torres and Balog are charged with participation in the underlying health care fraud conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, U.S.C., Sections 1349 and 1347. The indictment also charges that Rodriguez and Arias and their co-conspirators submitted more than $12.5 million in false and fraudulent claims for medical equipment, expensive HIV treatments, and related medications.
The indictment further alleges that the group operated an HIV clinic known as Coral Way Professional Health Services, Inc. (“Coral Way”), and recruited and then paid the patients to attend the clinic. Instead of receiving prescribed medications, however, the indictment alleges the patients were injected with saline while the owners billed Medicare for the cost of the prescribed drugs.
In furtherance of the fraud scheme, Rodriguez and Arias allegedly laundered a substantial portion of the fraud proceeds through a series of shell corporations the pair set up for the sole purpose of concealing the illicit monies In addition to Rodriguez and Arias, Monteagudo, Vega, Galdos, Balladares, Arderi and Morales are also charged with numerous counts of money laundering and related conspiracy charges.
The indictment also alleges that Rodriguez and Arias also sought to obstruct investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a Federal Grand Jury into their alleged acts of health care fraud and money laundering. Specifically, the indictment charges that Rodriguez and Arias met with potential government witnesses and encouraged them to lie to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and/or a Federal Grand Jury beginning in September 2005 and continuing through March of this year. Additionally, defendant Galdos was charged in a separate count with lying to the Grand Jury in December 2005 about his knowledge of a company used to launder Coral Way fraud proceeds.
Lastly, the indictment seeks forfeiture of a series of properties purchased by Rodriguez, Arias, and Monteagudo during the course of the conspiracy.
Two other men, Lazaro Jorge Ocejo and Ramon De Los Santos pled guilty to related health care fraud conspiracy and money laundering charges earlier this year. See, U.S. v. Jorge Lazaro Ocejo, 06-20625-CR-Cooke and U.S. v. Ramon De Los Santos, 06206-CR-Altonaga. United States District Court Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga sentenced De Los Santos to a prison term of 21 months for his role in laundering Coral Way proceeds. Ocejo is currently awaiting sentencing for his role in the health care fraud scheme wherein he served as president of Coral Way.
At today’s court appearance, the United States requested that defendants Rodriguez and Arias be detained pending trial, and a detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday, April 5, 2007, at 10:00 a.m. before Magistrate Judge John O’Sullivan. Bond was set for defendants Monteagudo, Vega, Gonzalez, Belog, and Galdos. The other three defendants have not yet appeared in court.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney William J. Parente Jr.
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.