Two health care clinic owners pleaded guilty today in connection with an $8 million health care fraud scheme involving the now-defunct home health care company Flores Home Health Care Inc.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Christopher B. Dennis of the Miami office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations made the announcement.
Miguel Jimenez, 43, and Marina Sanchez Pajon, 29, of Miami, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro in the Southern District of Florida, each to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. At sentencing, scheduled for Oct. 30, 2013, Jimenez and Pajon each face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Jimenez and Pajon, who are married, were owners and operators of Flores Home Health, a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and physical therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.
According to court documents, Jimenez and Pajon operated Flores Home Health for the purpose of billing Medicare for, among other things, expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary and/or were not provided. Jimenez’s primary role at Flores Home Health involved controlling the company and running and overseeing the schemes conducted through Flores Home Health. Both Jimenez and Pajon were responsible for negotiating and paying kickbacks and bribes, interacting with patient recruiters, and coordinating and overseeing the submission of fraudulent claims submitted to the Medicare program.
Jimenez, Pajon and their co-conspirators paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters in return for the recruiters providing patients to Flores Home Health for home health and therapy services that were medically unnecessary and/or not provided. They also paid kickbacks and bribes to co-conspirators in doctors’ offices and clinics in exchange for home health and therapy prescriptions, medical certifications, and other documentation. Jimenez, Pajon, and their co-conspirators used the prescriptions, medical certifications, and other documentation to fraudulently bill Medicare for home health care services that Jimenez and Pajon knew were in violation of federal criminal laws.
From approximately October 2009 through approximately June 2012, Flores Home Health was paid approximately $8 million by Medicare for fraudulent claims for home health services that were not medically necessary and/or not provided.
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 for the Southern District of Florida. This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney A. Brendan Stewart 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 more than 1,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.