US Attorney Charges Doctors and Others with Running Fraudulent AIDS/HIV Clinics Cheating Medicare of $8.5 Million

LawFuel.com US Attorney Newswire

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, JOSEPH DEMAREST, JR., the
Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and THOMAS F. O’DONNELL,
the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Department of Health and Human
Services, Office of Inspector General, New York Region. (“HHSOIG”),
announced that Dr. ROBERTO AYMAT, Dr. JORGE RIVERO, ASMED
BARRERA, AUGUSTO GUZMAN, and OSVALDO SOTOLONGO were charged today
for defrauding the Medicare system out of $8.5 million using
three AIDS/HIV clinics in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
According to a Complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal
Court today:
From January 2007 to April 2009, the defendants
operated three medical clinics located on Wadsworth Avenue in
Manhattan, Second Avenue in Manhattan, and Rockaway Parkway in
Brooklyn that purported to provide drug treatments to Medicareeligible
AIDS/HIV patients. In fact, the clinics were healthcare
fraud mills, which routinely billed Medicare for treatments that
were either never provided, or which were unnecessary. The
defendants executed the scheme by recruiting AIDS/HIV positive
patients eligible for Medicare, and paying them a kickback of $50
each in exchange for their Medicare beneficiary numbers. The
defendants then used the numbers to submit claims to Medicare for
reimbursement for drugs that had either never been purchased,
never been administered, or were medically unnecessary. From
January 2007 to April 2009, the defendants billed Medicare for
over ten times the number of units of prescription drugs as they
actually purchased, defrauding the Medicare system out of at
least approximately $8.5 million.
* * *
AYMAT, 44, of Manhattan, New York, and RIVERO, 82, of
East Brunswick, New Jersey, both medical doctors, as well as
SOTOLONGO, 38, of Miami, the general manager of the Wadsworth
Avenue, Manhattan clinic, and GUZMAN, 42, of Miami, and BARRERA,
38, of East New York, New Jersey, who worked at the clinics
administering unnecessary drugs, are each charged with conspiring
to commit fraud in connection with a health care benefits
program. Each of the defendants faces a maximum penalty of 20
years in prison.
AYMAT and BARRERA were arrested this morning in New
York and New Jersey, respectively, and SOTOLONGO and GUZMAN were
arrested in the Southern District of Florida. RIVERO is expected
to surrender at a later date.
U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: “The doctors and
managers of these alleged fraud mills used their professional
positions to cheat the Medicare system out of $8.5 million,
taking away millions meant for elderly Americans in need of
medical care. Today’s arrests demonstrate this Office’s
continuing commitment to work with our partners at the FBI and
HHS-OIG to investigate and prosecute criminals who steal from
Medicare.”
JOSEPH DEMAREST, Assistant Director-in-Charge for FBI,
stated: “Fraud is a major burden on Medicare, a program created
to provide coverage and manage costs for older Americans. The
FBI is committed to policing Medicare fraud, because fraud
threatens the financial viability of a program ultimately paid
for by the American taxpayer. These defendants weren’t just
manipulating the system; they were stealing our money.”
THOMAS F. O’DONNELL, Special Agent-in-Charge for HHSOIG
stated, “Infusion fraud is a serious and increasingly
alarming problem affecting both patients and taxpayers. We will
continue to aggressively pursue all those taking advantage of
Medicare.”

Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative work of the FBI
and HHS-OIG, and stated that the investigation is ongoing.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s
Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant United States Attorney KAN M.
NAWADAY is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely
accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and
until proven guilty.
10-038 ###

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