The Miami Herald reported last week that a suspect in a major Medicare money laundering case was taken into custody in Madrid.
The suspect is Cuban businessman Jorge Emilio Perez de Morales, who was charged in 2012 with laundering $238 million in fraudulent Medicare payments here in South Florida.
Perez, who ran Caribbean transfers, a Havana remittance company, had sought to have the charges against him dismissed. His efforts to show that his business was legitimate were unsuccessful.
By traveling abroad and living in Spain with his family despite being indicted, Perez will likely be charged with fleeing from the law, in addition to the issue of fraud.
Leaving the U.S. while under indictment is not uncommon — the FBI suggests there are upwards of 160 accused individuals in the region who have taken off rather than face trial.
The arrest fits a pattern of Cuban business persons being targeted for Medicare fraud in South Florida. More than 80 suspects were charged with defrauding the government in a nationwide bust in July that swept up over 400 suspects.
Individuals targeted include doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.
Miami as the epicenter of fraud
South Florida has been called the country’s epicenter of healthcare fraud. But it is important to remember that these individuals are presumed innocent until proved guilty.
These actions put a political spotlight on the region even as Congress debated a major overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system this summer.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledged at a news conference in July to take down healthcare fraud offenders, connecting fraud with the alleged exploitation of patients with heroin and opioid addictions here and in other parts of the country.