A former South Florida resident who left for Detroit to commit Medicare fraud was sentenced to eight years in federal prison. Daisy Martinez was accused of stealing millions of dollars from the federal healthcare by using Detroit area medical clinics. Court documents indicated that Martinez, her daughter and her son-in-law lured desperate people to their clinics in exchange for food, money and pain killers. The defendant appeared with her criminal attorney in front of U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen, who handed down the sentence. Prosecutors from the Justice Department said the defendant billed for hundreds of medical treatments that were either unnecessary or not even provided.
Martinez moved from Miami to Detroit as authorities began to crack down on her South Florida operations. Between 2006 and 2007, she owned and operated two clinics in suburban Detroit and was a partial owner of a third clinic. In her acceptance of responsibility statement provided to the government and the court, Martinez admitted to hiring doctors to run her clinics and recruiters to solicit patients to the clinics. The crux of the Medicare fraud surrounded recruiters paying desperate elderly people to bring their Medicare cards to the clinic in exchange for $50.00. The clinics billed for injections of cosyntropin which is used to diagnose adrenal gland deficiencies. In all cases, the treatments were unnecessary, but in most cases, not even provided. In most cases the patients received vitamin shots instead of medications.
After authorities began to investigate her clinics, she and her co-defendant fled to the Dominican Republic in an effort to avoid prosecution. After a year on the run, they returned to the United States to face charges in federal court. Nine other co-defendants were indicted in federal court including a doctor. Uncommonly, four of the elderly patients who are normally used as witnesses against the perpetrators were also indicted. The daughter and son-law of the defendant also entered guilty pleas in federal court and will appear for sentencing in April.
Kimberly Grant, the director of the Medicare program, issued the following statement: "Medicare was set up as a trust based system, any-willing-provider-system. The goal was to allow the widest array of providers and suppliers into the program so senior citizens would have as wide a choice as possible...unfortunately, there are people who wilfully take advantage of the program." The new care legislation will help to overhaul the current system with more checks and balances to prevent the large amount of Medicare fraud currently bankrupting the system.
As the fraud task forces ramp up, federal investigators will continue to try and purge the system of all individuals willing to defraud the federal healthcare system. As such, anyone involved in defrauding Medicare should be wary of the severe punishment the federal courts are handing down to those who involved in these schemes to defraud. If someone is either being investigated or has already been indicted, it is imperative to seek out a criminal defense law firm with vast experience in defending Medicare fraud cases in South Florida.
Florida Woman Gets Prison for Michigan Medicare Fraud, The Associated Press.com, March 25, 2010.