A health fraud conspiracy in South Florida entered its next stage, as the alleged ringleader entered a guilty plea this past Tuesday in a Miami federal court. The case involves an approximated $20 million in Medicare fraud, and the woman at the center of it faces a sentence of up to 10 years. Sentencing will take place in March of this year.
According to federal prosecutors, the woman, 49, took bribes and kickbacks from a range of home health care agencies. In return, prosecutors say, she produced phony medical documents and fake prescriptions. Medicare was then billed with the faked documents, with charges including some for services that were never rendered and others for services that weren't necessary.
The U.S. Department of Justice released a statement about the matter. In the statement, the DoJ affirms that the woman acknowledged her involvement in the fraudulent schemes and says that the amount exceeded $20 million. The DoJ had worked closely with the federal government's Medicare Strike Force. Their combined efforts resulted in charges against 1,700 people spread throughout nine cities. The total amount of fraud in all those cases was $5.5 billion.
The statistics show that this case is not unique. With billions of dollars at stake, Medicare fraud will likely continue in Florida and in other states as well. Authorities in the state and nationally are looking for ways to prevent inaccurate billing and the subsequent losses to taxpayers, as the situation endangers the solvency of the program.
Of course, individuals accused of Medicare fraud should consider speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Just because someone is charged with such crimes does not necessarily mean he or she is guilty. That is something that must be proven in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt.
Source: NBC Miami, "South Florida Woman Guilty in $20M Medicare Fraud Scheme" No author given, Jan. 08, 2014