Prosecutors secure guilty pleas in Miami health-care fraud scheme

McClatchy Washington BureauJanuary 7, 2014 

Justice Department prosecutors on Tuesday put the hurt on several Miami, Fla.-area health-care professionals.

Prosecutors secured a guilty plea from the owner and operator of a now-defunct clinic operated by the Merfi Corp. Prosecutors also announced guilty pleas from the owner and several recruiters involved with the equally defunct Flores Home Health Care, Inc.

Merfi and Flores Home Health Care were in cahoots, according to the Justice Department.

Justice Department officials said that Isabel Medina, 49, of Miami pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Officials said that Medina, through Merfi, "provided fraudulent prescriptions and other documentation to the owners and operators of Flores Home Health Care...in return for kickbacks and bribes."

"Medina has acknowledged that her involvement in fraudulent schemes at multiple home health care companies, including Flores Home Health, resulted in losses to the Medicare program exceeding $20 million," the Justice Department stated in a press release.

In a separate release, the Justice Department stated that "Flores Home Health was operated 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 and/or were not provided."

Between 2009 and 2012, Flores Home Health was paid about $8 million by Medicare for fraudulent claims, according to the Justice Department.

Justice Department officials said that Lerida Labrada, 59, of Miami, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Mayra Flores, 49 and German Martinez, 36, both of Miami, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and receive health care kickbacks, according to the department.

 

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