Home Miami Press Releases 2013 Two More Defendants Sentenced in Staged Automobile Accident Scheme

Two More Defendants Sentenced in Staged Automobile Accident Scheme
Ninety-Two Defendants Have Been Charged to Date in Operation Sledgehammer I-VI

U.S. Attorney’s Office October 21, 2013
  • Southern District of Florida (313) 226-9100

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); Jeff Atwater, Florida Chief Financial Officer, Florida Department of Financial Services; and Dave Aronberg, State Attorney, Office of the State Attorney for Palm Beach County, announce that defendants Wilfredo Sauceda, 33, of West Palm Beach, and Nelson Felix Martinez Torres, 47, also of West Palm Beach, were sentenced today by United States District Judge Kenneth A. Marra for their participation in an automobile insurance fraud scheme involving staged automobile accidents. Wilfredo Sauceda was sentenced to 40 months of incarceration, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $643,964.09; Nelson Felix Martinez Torres was sentenced to 70 months of incarceration, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,359,208.73.

Each of the defendants previously pled guilty to one count of conspiring to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349; multiple counts of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341 and 2; one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1956(a)(1), all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h); and multiple counts of money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1956(a)(1)(A)(i), 1956(a)(1)(B)(i), 1956(a)(1)(B)(ii), and 2.

On September 30, 2013, Maria Testa Baceiro, a/k/a "Maria Testa," 29, of Miami; Olinda Rodriguez, 39, of West Palm Beach; and Yeisy Chouza, 31, of Miami, were sentenced by United States District Judge Kenneth A. Marra for their participation in the same scheme. Maria Testa Baceira was sentenced to 72 months of incarceration, followed by two years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $4,232,248.04; Olinda Rodriguez was sentenced to 50 months of incarceration, followed by two years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,447,139.23; and Yeisy Chouza was sentenced to 40 months of incarceration, followed by two years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $558,261.55. On October 8, 2013, Iris Roca, of Davie, was sentenced by United States District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley for her participation in the same scheme. Iris Roca was sentenced to 50 months of incarceration, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,135,577.23.

According to court documents, between approximately October 2006 and December 2012, the members of the conspiracy staged automobile accidents and thereafter caused the submission of false insurance claims through chiropractic clinics they controlled. To execute the scheme, Maria Testa Baceiro, one of the true owners of some of the chiropractic clinics involved in this scheme, and others recruited individuals who had the medical or chiropractic licenses required by the state of Florida to open a clinic to act as "nominee owners" of the clinics. The defendants also recruited individuals, including defendants Yeisy Chouza, Wilfredo Sauceda, and Nelson Felix Martinez Torres, whom they referred to as "Perros" and "Perras" depending on their roles in the accidents, to participate in the staged accidents and others to help the clinics launder the insurance proceeds. The defendants also hired complicit chiropractors and therapists, including licensed massage therapists Olinda Rodriguez and Iris Roca, who prescribed and billed for unnecessary treatments and/or for services that had not been rendered. Thereafter, complicit clinic employees prepared and submitted claims to the automobile insurance companies for payment for these unnecessary or non-rendered services. Defendants Yeisy Chouza, Wilfredo Sauceda, and Nelson Felix Martinez Torres also worked cashing checks for various chiropractic clinics. Twenty-one clinics participated in this scheme.

Starting with Operation Sledgehammer I in June 2011 and including the defendants charged in Operation Sledgehammer VI, 92 defendants have been charged for their participation in this automobile insurance fraud scheme. Of those 92 defendants, 56 have been charged federally by the U.S. Attorney's Office, resulting in court-ordered restitution of more than $5 million to the defrauded insurance companies. Thirty-six defendants have been charged by the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office.

Mr. Ferrer commended the efforts of the FBI, IRS-CI, the Florida Department of Insurance Fraud, the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office, and the Greater Palm Beach County Health Care Fraud Task Force for their outstanding work in this case. Mr. Ferrer also recognized the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) for its collaboration and assistance in this investigation. The federal cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Marie Villafaña, and the state cases are being prosecuted by the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office.

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