South Florida Arrests Made In Connection To Multimillion-Dollar Healthcare Scam – CBS Miami
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Several people were arrested in South Florida in connection with a multi-million dollar healthcare fraud.
According to investigators, in the first nationwide COVID-19 scam, thieves attempted to take advantage of the pandemic by using patients’ personal information and their DNA to file flawed Medicare claims.
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The inspector general’s office says these scams combined resulted in more than $ 75 million in losses.
They say the accused thieves offered Medicare beneficiaries COVID tests in places like retirement homes, some drive-through checkpoints, and doctor’s offices, but used their personal information and saliva or blood samples to submit flawed claims to Medicare for other unrelated tests.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced charges against 15 people across the country.
Arrests have been made in South Florida for fraud in Boca Raton and Palm Beach Counties.
Juan Nava Ruiz and Eric Frank of Coral Springs and Christopher Licata of Boca Raton were charged with $ 9.3 million in alleged healthcare fraud, cable fraud, kickback and money laundering.
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According to the Office of the Inspector General, Licata, an owner of Boca Toxicology, LLC, allegedly offered and repaid kickbacks to patient brokers including Ruiz and Frank in exchange for referring Medicare beneficiaries to Boca Toxicology for various forms of genetic testing do not need.
In addition, Licata is alleged to have forged applications for COVID-19 aid funds, including applications and documentation for a Paycheck Protection Program loan of $ 50,250 and an economic injury loan of $ 150,000.
Palm Beach County’s Leonel Palatnik and Michael Stein are charged with an alleged $ 75 million conspiracy to defraud the United States and pay and receive healthcare setbacks. Palatnik owns Panda Conservation Group, LLC, a Texan company that owned and operated testing laboratories.
According to investigators, the two took advantage of the CARES Act by giving telemedicine providers access to Medicare beneficiaries and charging them for consultations. In return, these providers agreed to refer the beneficiaries to Panda’s laboratories for expensive and unnecessary cancer and cardiovascular genetic testing.
Assistant Inspector General of Investigation Chris Cabinet says the reason the investigators intercepted is because the Department of Health and Human Services hotlines received complaints that they were not getting their COVID test results on time, if at all. got back, which led to the large-scale investigation.
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Other suspects have been charged in California, New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas.