Four Defendants Sentenced to Prison for Paying and Accepting Bribes and Gratuities
Four defendants have been sentenced to prison terms, by U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley in West Palm Beach, for paying and accepting bribes and gratuities.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Pamela Bondi, Florida Attorney General, Margaret Moore-Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, United States Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG), Shimon R. Richmond, Special Agent in Charge, Miami Region, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), made the announcement.
Irma Davidian, 52, of Boca Raton, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $2,789,038.85 in restitution. Davidian previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in programs receiving federal funds and commit health care fraud; and conspiracy to give a gratuity to a public official, both, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
Gladys Roman, 47, of Pompano Beach, was sentenced to 40 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $2,789,038.85 in restitution. George Lopez, 35, of Pompano Beach, was sentenced to 54 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $300,673.42 in restitution. Both defendants previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in programs receiving federal funds and commit health care fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
Maria Sanchez, 50, of Pembroke Pines, was sentenced to four months in prison and four months of house arrest, to be followed by three years of supervised release. The defendant previously pled guilty to conspiracy to receive and accept a gratuity by a public official, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
Co-defendant Alejandro Lomoso, 56, of Southwest Ranches, previously pled guilty to conspiracy to receive and accept a gratuity by a public official, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 6, 2016.
According to court records, Davidian was in the business of representing persons who sought to obtain government benefits, including Social Security, Medicaid and Food Stamp benefits. Davidian would claim that, for a payment ranging from $2,000-$5,000, she could obtain those benefits for individuals regardless of their personal circumstances. Roman was employed by the Florida Department of Child and Family Services (DCF) as an interview clerk and inputted information from those persons applying for Medicaid and Food Stamps benefits into a DCF computer. The Medicaid applications would then be assigned to a DCF case worker whose job title was an Economic Self-Sufficiency Specialist (ESS).
In or about April 2009, Roman submitted applications to DCF on behalf of Davidian’s clients and did so from her home or a public library and would add or change information to enhance the application. Davidian repeatedly asked Roman if there was an ESS worker at DCF who Davidian could pay to approve DCF applications. Lopez was an ESS for DCF. His duties included approving or denying requests for Medicaid and Food Stamp benefits. In or about 2012, Lopez agreed that, in exchange for money, he would approve applications submitted by Davidian on behalf of her clients.
Davidian submitted applications on behalf of her clients to Roman so that they could be forwarded to DCF. Davidian submitted fraudulent documents with some of the applications in order to make it appear that her clients met the benefit requirements. Davidian instructed Roman to assign Lopez as the ESS worker in order to ensure that some of the fraudulent applications would be approved.
Roman would then fraudulently approve benefits for applicants who were not otherwise qualified. If benefits for Medicaid or Food Stamps were properly denied by another DCF employee, Lopez logged into the DCF computer system and overrode the denial and approved the benefits. Beginning in or about 2012 through in or about January 2014, every other week, Davidian paid Roman and Lopez each $500. As a result of the scheme, Roman and Lopez assisted Davidian to seek more than $5,000,000 in fraudulent benefits.
Court records further indicate that Sanchez and Lomoso worked as claims representatives for the SSA. From in or about 2008 through in or about early 2011, Sanchez and Lomoso would periodically receive applications from Davidian on behalf of persons seeking SSA benefits. In exchange for payment, Sanchez and Lomoso would expedite and/or modify the application process. Davidian gave, offered, and promised approximately $9,500 in U.S. currency to Lomoso and approximately $13,000-$15,000 to Sanchez in exchange for performing their official acts.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, Florida Attorney General’s Office, SSA-OIG, HHS-OIG, MFCU and the Florida Department of Children and Families OIG. Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution will handle the state law violations. The federal matters are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey N. Kaplan and Thomas P. Lanigan.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.