Articles Posted in Money Laundering

Photobucket MIAMI, FLORIDA (AUGUST 4, 2011) – A former convicted drug trafficker who served five years now stands accused of defrauding Medicare of more than $11 million through his Miami-Dade home health care agency. Luis Alejandro Sanz billed Medicare for treatment to supposed diabetics who did not suffer from the disease or need home care nurses to inject insulin.

Sanz and his wife, Elizabeth Acosta Sanz, are charged with conspiring to commit health care fraud and money laundering. The pair were also charged with paying kickbacks to recruiters who provided the couple’s agency, Ideal Home Health, with Medicare patients. U.S. Magistrate Patrick White viewed their alleged crimes as so egregious that at their arraignment he denied the defendants’ bids for bond stating they were a flight risk.

Investigators found evidence of 40 separate bank accounts through which the couple divided the millions they received from Medicare, and still have not been able to trace all the funds received.

Photobucket PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA (May 26, 2011) – State Attorney Michael McAuliffe and Sheriff Ric Bradshaw will co-host Palm Beach County’s Prescription Drug Abuse and Pain Clinic Summit. The event takes place today, May 26, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 at the Clayton Hutcheson Agricultural Center.

The summit focuses on prevention of the consequences surrounding addiction and prescription drug dealing before they occur.

This is the summit’s second year and since that time the number of pain clinics dealing in the illegal prescription drug trade has dropped significantly; due in part to law enforcement’s wide-sweeping raids.

infusion.1.jpgDETROIT, MI (May 6, 2011) – Two owners of a Dearborn HIV-infusion clinic were convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to pay health care kickbacks, health care fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Leonio Alayone, the person who helped them launder their financial gains, was convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering.

According to the superseding indictment, the two owners and brothers, Martin and Joaquin Tasis, paid kickbacks to patients when the brothers used the patients’ Medicare accounts to bill for services never performed. Evidence showed that the Dearborn Rehabilitation and Medical Center was specifically established for the purpose of defrauding Medicare. From 2005 to 2007, Medicare was billed $9.1 million by the clinic for medically unnecessary treatments or services that were never performed.

Initially, the clinic was located in South Florida. The brothers later moved the clinic to Michigan when law enforcement became suspicious of possible fraudulent practices. So far 12 individuals involved in the case have been convicted for their part in the fraud; two others are awaiting trial.

money-pile.jpgMIAMI, FLORIDA (May 3, 20100) – American Therapeutic Corporation and Medlink Professional Management Group have closed their doors following guilty pleas in a $200 million Medicare fraud case. The companies could face $80 million in penalties. Both have had their assets frozen.

The companies’ owners also admitted guilt to health care fraud conspiracy, illegal health care kickbacks and money laundering crimes. The perpetrators used Medicare sleep studies claims as the avenue for the fraud and falsified patient files to quality for payments.

In addition, assisted living facilities’ and half-way houses’ personnel, as well as patient brokers sent the company patients that were ineligible to receive Medicare reimbursement for the studies. A few patients also received kickbacks for their participation.

CINCINNATI, OHIO (May 3, 2011) The Oxy Express could be responsible for more deaths than any other drug-related death in the country. It comes as no surprise to local law enforcement then that the doctors who write the most prescriptions of Oxycodone have all practiced in the heart of the Oxycodone supply area, South Florida.

The more than 800 pain clinics in Florida issue 85% of the Oxycodone prescriptions in the country. Addicts climb into vans, cars and buses to make the trip from Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana to get their hands on powerful narcotic painkillers. They’ll shoot it, snort it or smoke it, unless they’re also dealers and buying for the lucrative resale market.

The DEA says pain clinics can make up to $20,000 in a morning and will even hire armed guards to patrol the clinic parking lot. The DEA makes it clear that it doesn’t want to target legitimate doctors issuing legitimate pain prescriptions.

PhotobucketNEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA – Dr. Michael K. Nunn pled guilty to health care fraud and money laundering in U.S. District Court on April 25. Nunn received four years of probation and was ordered to pay $297,215 as restitution to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Veteran’s Administration in connection with Medicare fraud. His medical corporation was also fined $700,000.

Nunn’s company, Community Wellness Center, located in New Bern, North Carolina, fraudulently billed Medicare for diagnostic and therapy services that were never performed. If performed services were not among those that would receive reimbursement from Medicare, they were coded as services that Medicare would pay. The Veteran’s Administration was often billed twice for the same services to the same patients.

Four government agencies participated in the investigation, including the Internal Revenue Service.

PALM BEACH, FL – Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe announced the arrest and filing of criminal charges against 11 individuals, including five physicians, for a total of 172 counts which include Racketeering (RICO), Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering, Trafficking in Oxycodone, Money Laundering, Unlicensed Practice of Health Care Profession and other related criminal charges. The arrests follow a complex multi-agency investigation dubbed OPERATION “PILL NATION” involving roughly 340 undercover buys from doctors and medical personnel in pain clinics throughout a three county South Florida area.

OPERATION “SNAKE OIL” (click here to see an earlier post about this) also carried out the same day as “OPERATION “PILL NATION” is a result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate, and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement and being prosecuted by the federal authorities.

“Legitimate pain management is a essential part of medical practice,” however “we cannot, and will not, allow medicine to be used by merchants of misery to corrupt the health of individuals and undermine the welfare of whole communities. We are in a continuing crisis, but the tide is turning and today’s enforcement actions provide a clear example of progress,” said State Attorney McAuliffe. To read the State Attorney’s Office’s Press release in its entirety, click here.

Defendants Owned and Worked at Seven Area Clinics that Prescribed over 660,000 Pills, Profited More than $22 Million

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – The United States Attorney for the Southern District, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation, announce the indictment of six South Florida residents for their participation in the illegal distribution of pain killers.

snake-oil.jpgToday’s case, dubbed Operation Snake Oil, is a result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate, and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement.

drugs_1.jpgAccording to an article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, at least 45 pain clinics opened in Broward and Palm Beach counties in the past year, while state law makers and state and local law enforcement agencies stepped-up their efforts to put an end to the operation suspected “pill mills.”

In August 2008, 66 pain clinics were open for business in Broward and Palm Beach counties combined. The Sun-Sentinel article reports that according to data available from the Florida Department of Health, the number centers issuing narcotic pain medications currently is more than the times what it was in August 2008 – with 122 in Broward to 122 and in Palm Beach County to 108.

Pain clinics “are proliferating despite our efforts,” Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti said last week, after state and federal agents executed search warrants at three pain clinics owned or controlled by Christopher and Jeffrey George in Palm Beach County. The Georges’ homes were also searched.

Federal officials in charge of preventing fraud in the billion-dollar Medicare program ignored dozens of warnings of criminal activity during the Bush administration, according to investigations by the Associated Press and U.S. Senator Charles Grassley’s (R-IA) office.
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CMS received about 30 tips over more than three-years reporting scams, but less than half of them got any attention. Organized crime groups have realized it is much easier and less dangerous to steal millions from the Medicare without as opposed to traditional criminal enterprises like prostitution, gambling or dope dealing.
Southern California is one that has been particularly hard hit area for Medicare fraud, where Russian, Armenian and Nigerian mafias are under investigation by federal agents. Konstantin Grigoryan, a former Soviet army colonel turned crime boss, recently pled guilty to taking $20 million from Medicare. Click here to watch a CNN report including undercover surveillance video.