In the largest single criminal healthcare fraud laundering scheme that dates back to 2009, three Floridians have been charged with defrauding Medicare and Medicaid of over $1 billion dollars. The owner of more than 30 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Miami and a few in Illinois worked with a hospital administrator and physician assistant to put thousands of people through their care systems that did not in fact qualify or to use them to bill unneeded services and medication. Using these laundered funds, the head mastermind behind the scandal took private jets, bought half a million dollar watches, hired private escort services and pay off a reported nearly $9 million dollars in credit card bills.
Once in the criminal’s facilities, the conspirators further kept the individuals in the nursing homes by heavily medicating them with narcotics to keep receiving Medicare and Medicaid. Additionally, the individuals in the homes received medically unnecessary services just to bill to insurance. This is the not first health care fraud scheme to affect the South Florida area; South Florida has been ridden with fraudulent scandals targeting government aid systems and has had government attention called to it several times. While this issue has been brought to the attention of officials in the Miami, leading them to create ‘strike forces’ in hopes of catching these criminals, it is evident that the problem is difficult to regulate.
Fraudulent schemes extended beyond the healthcare system to law enforcement, who were paid kickbacks in cash or disguised as charitable donations payments for services, and payment for lease services. There were many players associated with the scandal, not only law enforcement officers, but doctors and pharmacists were taking part in the billing scheme in order to receive more kickbacks from the nearly 14,000 elderly patients that went through the defendant’s care facilities. It is no surprise that the defendant withdrew almost $4 million dollars over the past few years, since many of these payouts were in cash. This charge is not the defendant’s first regarding healthcare fraud; in 2006, defendant settled a civil claim in which he was ordered to pay out $15.4 million dollars for conducting Medicare fraud. These current charges will show that the defendant failed to learn from his illegal conduct and continued to defraud these programs of funds for over half a decade.