Record seizures reported in Medicare Fraud cases for 2010; Miami leads nation

The federal government has announced that law enforcement recovered more than $4 billion related to health care fraud in 2010.

As our Miami defense lawyers have reported on our Miami Criminal Attorney Blog, more Medicare fraud allegations are made in South Florida than anywhere else in the nation. Whether you are a patient who has been accused or victimized, or whether you are a clinic, equipment provider or health care professional, seeking qualified legal representation is critical from the earliest stages of such cases.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports the amount recovered last year was the largest ever recorded.

“Our aggressive pursuit of health care fraud has resulted in the largest recovery of taxpayer dollars in the history of the Justice Department,” said Associate Attorney General THomas Perrelli. “These actions are in large part because of the great work being led by the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team. Through this initiative, we are working in partnership with government, law enforcement and industry leaders, and the public to protect taxpayer dollars, control health care costs, and ensure the strength and integrity of our most essential health care programs.”

Of course, the government has not increased staffing or resources. Last year, 60 Minutes reported just three fraud investigators were assigned to all of South Florida. Increased emphasis on making arrests, without additional resources, frequently leads to marginal cases and questionable arrests.

In 2010, allegations of health care fraud led to:

-140 indictments against 284 defendants accused of billing Medicare for more than $590 million.

-217 guilty pleas and guilty verdicts against 23 defendants.

-146 defendants sentenced to prison, each for an average of 40 months.

A total of 1,116 health care fraud investigations were opened during the year and 726 defendants were convicted.

The first Medicare Fraud Strike Force was launched in South Florida in 2007. At the end of 2010, a total of 7 teams were operating nationwide, including a second Florida team which launched in the Tampa area.

Significant cases in South Florida in 2010 included:

-A 70 to 120-month prison sentence for the founder of a Miami HIV clinic accused of defrauding Medicare of more than $5.8 million.

-A 144-month prison sentence for the operator of two medical supply companies on charges of submitting more than $4.8 million in fraudulent claims.

-A 151-month prison sentence and $11 million in restitution for the operator of 13 equipment companies and three medical clinics in Miami-Dade and Hillsborough.

-A 46-month sentence for owner of a medical billing company. $15.9 million in restitution was also ordered.

The South Florida fraud hotline has received more than 29,000 calls, resulting in 664 new fraud investigations.