Dozens of people are in custody of Florida police for their alleged involvement in a scheme to defraud Medicare. The investigation was a joint effort between a local police department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Charges include conspiring to commit racketeering, racketeering and other charges related to Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

Police claim that pharmacy straw owners — owners who are only such on paper — were instrumental to the scheme’s success. Straw owners were apparently able to create multiple pharmacies to obtain unique pharmacy licenses and secure DEA credentials. Those pharmacies were supposedly reimbursed for medications that were never actually prescribed nor given to patients. Pharmacists, pharmacy managers and technicians, check-cashers and others were also possibly involved.

Both prescriber identification numbers for physicians as well as Medicare beneficiary numbers were possibly purchased through what might have been illegitimate sources. Investigators believe that this information was then used to submitted fraudulent Medicare claims, the reimbursement checks for which were then laundered. Funds were possibly moved between different accounts while reimbursement checks were cashed at specific check cashing stores.

White collar crimes like Medicare and Medicaid fraud can yield severe consequences when defendants are convicted. There is perhaps no such thing as preparing too early, and a timely response to charges can help Florida defendants develop the most appropriate defense strategy. For most, either fighting the charges until the very end of trial court proceedings or negotiating a plea deal with the prosecution can yield the best possible outcome.

Source: NBC Miami, “30 Arrested for Alleged Health Care Fraud, Money Laundering Schemes“, June 9, 2016

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