Miami-Area Certified Nursing Assistant Sentenced to 150 Months in Prison for Role in $200 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme
WASHINGTON—A Miami-licensed nursing assistant was sentenced today to serve 150 months in prison for participating in a $200 million Medicare fraud scheme involving fraudulent billings by American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC), a mental health company headquartered in Miami.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Florida region made the announcement.
Rodolfo Santaya, 55, of Miami, was convicted on July 18, 2014, after a six-day jury trial, of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, conspiracy to pay and receive bribes and kickbacks, and two counts of receipt of bribes and kickbacks in connection with a federal health care benefit program. In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez of the Southern District of Florida ordered Santaya to pay more than $18.2 million in restitution.
Evidence at trial demonstrated that, between 2006 and 2010, Santaya was paid thousands of dollars a month in cash kickbacks in exchange for referring Medicare beneficiaries to ATC, which operated purported partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) in seven locations throughout South Florida and Orlando. A PHP is a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness.
Evidence at trial also demonstrated that the Medicare beneficiaries Santaya sent to ATC did not need, qualify for, nor receive PHP treatment. Nevertheless, ATC submitted false and fraudulent bills to Medicare for services purportedly provided to each of Santaya’s patients. In order to justify ATC’s fraudulent billings, medical professionals, including doctors, fabricated and signed fraudulent medical documentation and patient files.
ATC, an associated management company, and more than 20 individuals, including ATC’s owners, have all previously pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial. Santaya has been in federal custody since his conviction.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Robert A. Zink and Trial Attorneys Nicholas E. Surmacz and Kelly Graves of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.