The U.S. attorney's office struck a deal with a Miami defendant this week, reducing his prison sentence in exchange for cooperation in a larger fraud prosecution. The defendant pled guilty to laundering funds as part of a massive health care fraud network.
Working through his check cashing business, the defendant allegedly helped a number of South Florida companies route money through accounts in Canada and Trinidad. The money ultimately entered the Cuban nationalized banking system. According to court documents, the defendant helped the conspiracy pass at least $31 million to Cuba in exchange for a 10 percent fee.
Although the government believes the defendant laundered this enormous amount of money, prosecutors are more interested in the rest of the conspiracy. Its plea deal with the defendant reduces the charges in exchange for full cooperation in the larger case. The deal also releases the defendant on $1.55 million bail. On the flip side, the defendant must pay back around $10 million and will still serve some amount of prison time.
Armed with information and testimony from this defendant, the government will presumably now move against the other conspirators. Although few details are available, the indictment against this defendant indicates that the government is aware of 70 South Florida healthcare companies. It claims that these companies submitted $374.4 million in false Medicare claims, making the massive but fraudulent sum of $70.7 million.
This defendant's cooperation will help the government prepare its case. The deal requires him to provide financial records, testimony, and other evidence, including details about the other participants.
More details about the rest of the conspiracy should appear in the coming weeks as federal prosecutors continue this healthcare fraud takedown.
Source: Miami Herald, "Check casher pleads guilty to laundering stolen Medicare millions that wound up in Cuba's banks," Jay Weaver, Sept. 9, 2012