Owner of Miami Home Health Company Pleads Guilty to Role in $32 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme
WASHINGTON—A Miami owner of a home health care company pleaded guilty today in connection with a $32 million Medicare fraud scheme.
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 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement.
Felix Gonzalez, 45, of Miami, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud before U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams of the Southern District of Florida. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 19, 2015.
According to his plea documents, Gonzalez was an owner of AA Advanced Care Inc. (AA Advanced), a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries. In connection with his guilty plea, Gonzalez admitted that he and his co-conspirators operated AA Advanced for the purpose of billing the Medicare program for, among other things, expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary or not provided at all.
Gonzalez further admitted that he negotiated and paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters in exchange for patient referrals, as well as prescriptions, plans of care (POCs) and certifications for medically unnecessary therapy and home health services for Medicare beneficiaries. Gonzalez admitted that he and his co-conspirators used these prescriptions, POCs and medical certifications to fraudulently bill the Medicare program for home health care services.
From approximately January 2006 through March 2009, AA Advanced submitted approximately $32 million in claims for home health services that were not medically necessary or not provided, and Medicare paid approximately $22 million for these fraudulent claims.
The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Joseph S. Beemsterboer and Trial Attorney 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 Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.