Four South Florida Home Care Agencies and 24 Employees Involved in Nationwide Medicare Fraud Takedown

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced on Tuesday that 59 South Florida residents were charged as part of a nationwide coordinated takedown by Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations, which included 24 home care professionals who worked for four now-shuttered home health agencies in Miami. South Florida accounts for $137 million in false billing among multiple provider types, including home care agencies.

HCAF previously reported that this nationwide takedown has resulted in charges against 107 individuals in seven cities for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving approximately $452 million in false billing. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the coordinated takedown involved the highest amount of false Medicare billings in a single takedown in the Strike Force’s history.

The following cases involve Florida home care agencies and those employees who have been charged:

U.S. v. Odalys Ferdandez, Kelvin Soto, Yumidia Naranjo, Jose Guerra, Yanuris Lima and Servando Raya

In this six defendant case, two registered nurses employed by Ideal Home Health (Odalys Fernandez and Kelvin Soto) are charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud for purportedly providing services, such as skilled nursing and physical therapy, to homebound beneficiaries. In fact, however, the services were either medically unnecessary or were never provided. As part of the scheme, the defendants falsified medical paperwork to make it appear as if they had provided the services. Four other defendants (Yumidia Naranjo, Jose Guerra, Yanuris Lima and Servando Raya) are alleged to be patient recruiters who paid Medicare beneficiaries so they would serve as patients at Ideal Home Health. Ideal, in turn, submitted more than $40 million in false billings to Medicare. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Bernstein.

U.S. v. Eulises Escalona

This indictment charges Eulises Escalona with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to receive and pay health care kickbacks, and five counts of payment of health care kickbacks stemming from a $42 million home health care fraud scheme. According to the indictment, Escalona owned and operated Willsand Home Health, Inc. (Willsand), a home health agency that purportedly provided home health and physical therapy services to eligible Medicare beneficiaries. In fact, however, from January 2006 through November 2009, Escalona and others paid kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries to induce them to become patients at Willsand regardless of medical need and to falsely attest that they had received the purported services. In addition, Escalona and others paid kickbacks to patient recruiters and to doctors who signed fraudulent prescriptions and plans of care (POCs) for unnecessary home health services for patients at Willsand. To execute the scheme, Escalona and others falsified patient files and POCs to make it appear as if the patients had qualified for and actually received home health services. In this way, Willsand allegedly submitted approximately $42 million in false claims to Medicare for services it claimed to have provided to approximately 622 beneficiaries. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph S. Beemsterboer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

U.S. v. Rodolfo Nieto, Jr.

This indictment charges Rodolfo Nieto, Jr., owner and operator of Ronat Home Health Care, Inc. (Ronat), with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to receive and pay health care kickbacks and three counts of receipt of kickbacks for his participation in a $60 million home health care fraud scheme. According to the indictment, from January 2006 through November 2009, Nieto accepted kickbacks in return for recruiting Medicare beneficiaries for placement at Nany Home Health, Inc. (Nany). Nieto allegedly caused Nany to submit claims to Medicare for home health services, including insulin injections and physical therapy, purportedly provided through Ronat. According to the indictment, Nany submitted approximately $60 million in false claims to the Medicare program for services that it purportedly provided to approximately 1474 beneficiaries. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph S. Beemsterboer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

U.S. v. Pablo Orama, Vivian Augustine, a/k/a Vivian Salazar, Ariane Marchioro Amorim, Jose Orelvis Ortega, Marlen Diosdada Garcia, Ivon Perez, Marianela Terrero, Jose Abreu-Gonzalez, Elba M. Caicedo, Carlos A. Herrera, Marisela Sherwood, Nancy Diaz, Daymi Fuentes Gil, Olga Martinez Rodriguez, Yuria Perez Rivero, and Joel Loyola

In this case, sixteen defendants are charged with conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks and substantive counts of paying and receiving kickbacks in connection with a federal health care program. According to the indictment, defendant Pablo Orama was the owner of Superstar Home Health, a Miami-Dade County home health agency that purportedly provided skilled nursing services and physical therapy to homebound Medicare beneficiaries. Vivian Augustine and Ariane Amorim were employees of the company. Jose Orelvis Ortega, Marlen Garcia, Ivon Perez, Marianela Terrero, Jose Abreu-Gonzalez, Elba Caicedo, Carlos Herrera, Marisela Sherwood, and Nancy Diaz were recruiters who offered money to Medicare beneficiaries in return for their agreement to serve as patients at Superstar. Defendants Daymi Fuentes Gil, Olga Rodriguez, Yuria Rivero, and Joel Loyola were Medicare beneficiaries who accepted kickbacks in return for agreeing to serve as patients at Superstar. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric E. Morales.

HCAF has issued a press release stating the association’s support of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force’s efforts to crackdown on Medicare fraud in Florida and throughout the country.

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