Multiple defendants entered guilty pleas yesterday for their involvement in a $20 million Medicare fraud scheme. Roberto Marrero, Sandra Viera, and Enrique Rodriguez appeared in federal court with their respective Miami criminal defense attorneys and entered guilty pleas. The individuals that entered the pleas were either owners or operators of the home health company Trust Care Health Services, Inc. In addition to the owners and operators, a patient recruiter also entered into a guilty plea. Members of the U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services took part in making the announcement.
The indictment alleged that Marrero and Viera were the owners and operators of the Miami home health care agency referred to as Trust Care. The federal government accused the defendants of billing the federal healthcare system for home health care treatment and physical therapy that were not necessary or were never provided to their patients. The indictment also alleged that Rodriguez worked for Trust care as a patient recruiter. All of the defendants entered guilty pleas to charges including conspiracy to commit health care fraud and for paying and receiving kickbacks.
Marrero was accused of owning and controlling the inner working of Trust Care. The government alleged that Viera was in charge of the day-today operations of the home health care provider by managing and supervising the employees at Trust Care. Both defendants were accused for negotiating and paying kickbacks to patient recruiters while also being accused of coordinating and submitting fraudulent bills to Medicare. The indictment also accused Marrero and Viera of paying doctors' offices and clinics for prescriptions and medical certifications in an effort to legitimize their business. Rodriguez is alleged to have received kickback in the form of money in exchange for providing patients to Trust Care.
The owners/operators of Trust Care operated the business from 2007 through 2010. Trust care submitted bills in the amount of $20 million to Medicare who in turn paid the company $15 million. At the time Marrero and Viera entered the guilty pleas, they also admitted their involvement in Medicare fraud regarding other companies including A & B Health Services, Centrum Home Health Care, Inc., Vital Care Home Health Services, Inc., R & M Health care, Inc. Vital Care Home Health Services, Inc. and Lovable Home Health Services, Corp. The total estimated losses to the federal health care system amounted to nearly $50 million.
The defendants are scheduled to appear in Miami federal court in November for sentencing. They are each facing 10 years in prison for the charge of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and 5 years for conspiracy to receive and pay kickbacks. Each of the defendants will not receive the maximum sentences, but will be sentenced withing their guideline ranges. Their guideline ranges will be determined by the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines. The guidelines will provide a base offense level which will be increased multiple levels depending on the amount of the loss to the healthcare system that can be proven by government prosecutors.
Owners of Home Health Care Companies and Patient Recruiter Plead Guilty in Miami, eNews Park Forest.com, September 5, 2013.