Federal authorities arrested nearly 100 individuals across the country for their involvement in Medicare fraud. Twenty-five arrests were made in South Florida alone. Miami-Dade County is often considered to be the hotbed for healthcare fraud. Miami criminal lawyers have kept busy over the past few years representing clients arrested for Medicare fraud. The highest profile defendant arrested in the most recent sweep was Roberto Marrero, a Cuban born actor and businessman, who is accused of stealing millions of dollars from the federal healthcare program. Both Marrero and his wife were arrested for submitting $20 million in bills to Medicare. The bills were submitted to the program for home health care for diabetic patients. The indictment alleges that the treatments were either not necessary or never provided.
The federal investigation into Medicare fraud netted offenders from Miami to Detroit to
Los Angeles. Those arrested included doctors, nurses and clinic owners and operators. The total amount billed to Medicare by those arrested tallied approximately $223 million. Marrero allegedly began his Medicare scheme to defraud back in 2007. He is accused of using his ill-gotten gains to purchase high-end automobiles and to launch a cable TV station.
The agency responsible for the investigation and the arrests is the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. There are currently 9 regions in the United States under the watchful eye of federal investigators. Each region has its own strike force investigating cases of fraud. The president's administration has vowed to reduce the amount of healthcare fraud perpetrated in the country and claims to have improved the oversight of Medicare billing. The Medicare fraud crackdown has become a priority of the federal government as indicated by the press conference which was attended by the U.S. Attorney General and the Human Health Services Secretary.
Marrero, his wife and several other defendants made their first appearance in federal court on Tuesday. Some of the defendants were represented by privately retained attorneys. Those who cannot afford to hire private counsel will be appointed an attorney from the public defender's office or private counsel registered with the federal court to represent indigent defendants. The government is seeking pre-trial detention on the couple. Both defendants are entitled to a hearing before the magistrate presiding over the case in an effort to obtain a bond. The pre-trial detention hearing is essentially a bond hearing to determine if the defendants are eligible for a bond, an if so, the amount of the bond.
Marrero and his wife are accused owning and operating Trust Care Health Services from 2007 to 2010. The indictment accuses the couple of submitting false bills to Medicare for the treatment of approximately 700 homebound diabetic patients who could not provide insulin to themselves. The charges allege that many of the patients did not require treatment and in some cases treatment was never provided.. It is also alleged that the couple paid recruiters to find patients with Medicare cards. The federal government is trying to locate assets obtained from the illegal enterprise as part of an asset forfeiture action.
Ninety Arrested in South Florida Medicare Crackdown, Bradenton Herald.com, May 15, 2013.