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October 8, 2015

Miami-Area Pharmacy Owner Sentenced to 46 Months in Prison for Role in $1.8 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

A Miami-area pharmacy owner was sentenced today to 46 months in prison for his role in the submission of more than $1.8 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.

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 Shimon R. Richmond of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement.

Evelio Fernandez Penaranda, 47, of Miami, pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud on July 23, 2015. In addition to today’s prison sentence, Chief U.S. District Court Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida ordered Penaranda to pay $1,876,241 in restitution.

Penaranda owned Naranja Pharmacy Inc. According to admissions made in connection with Penaranda’s guilty plea, between May 2013 and March 2014, Naranja Pharmacy submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare for prescription drugs that were not prescribed by physicians, not medically necessary and not provided to Medicare beneficiaries. In connection with his guilty plea, Penaranda admitted that Naranja Pharmacy submitted these false claims by obtaining and using the unique identifying information of Medicare beneficiaries and doctors without their consent.

Penaranda also admitted that he controlled Naranja Pharmacy’s bank accounts, and that he transferred the payments received from Medicare to himself and his accomplices. According to admissions made in connection with Penaranda’s plea, during the course of the scheme, Naranja Pharmacy submitted over $1.8 million in false claims for prescription drugs to the Medicare program.

The case was 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 of the Southern District of Florida. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Nicholas E. Surmacz 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 over 2,300 defendants who collectively have billed the Medicare program for over $7 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, go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

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