The federal government continues to prosecute and punish anyone caught up in Miami Medicare fraud. This time the feds arrested and prosecuted a Miami-Dade County woman for allegedly running a clinic that allegedly assisted in defrauding the federal health care system out of $2.3 million. Dulce Briceno appeared in federal court with her Miami criminal attorney for her sentencing hearing. After hearing arguments from the prosecution, as well as defense counsel a federal court judge sentenced the woman to five years in prison and ordered her to repay the federal government $1.8 million in restitution. Medicare fraud cases are currently and will be the foreseeable future the focus of the federal government. Anyone contact by federal investigators regarding their involvement in a healthcare fraud case should immediately seek the assistance of a Miami criminal lawyer to protect their rights. Lengthy prison sentences and large fines and restitution orders are being handed down by federal judges.
Briceno was one of fifty individuals arrested as part of large investigation conducted by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. The strike force operates in seven districts within the United States. The strike force continues to expand its reaches throughout the country. The federal task force is responsible for at least 500 indictments in involving fraud. What was interesting about the case is that Briceno's alleged criminal violations did not occur in Miami, but rather in Detroit, Michigan. Yet with her consent, her case was transferred to a Miami federal court. Briceno was one of fifty individuals involved in the massive scheme to commit healthcare fraud. Of the fifty arrested, two of those indicted were actually medical physicians. The clinic billed Medicare $2.3 million, but only actually received $1.8 million from the federal government.
Briceno with the assistance of her criminal lawyer entered into a plea agreement with the federal government. She admitted to running the daily operations of X-Press Center when the clinic billed Medicare for unnecessary medical treatments or for treatments that were not provided to patients. Patients were not referred to the clinic, but were recruited and received monetary compensation for appearing at the clinic. No matter what state the purported healthcare fraud occurred in, the allegations are always similar. The court records are sealed so it is unknown whether she is going to provide substantial assistance to federal prosecutors. From the look of the sentence, her cooperation must have been limited. If she decides to assist prosecutors after the sentence was imposed her lawyer can file a Rule 35 and seek a sentence reduction.
If you are contacted by federal investigators contact a criminal attorney with experience in Medicare fraud matters. Early representation is always beneficial to a client and can result in limiting the number and type of charges being filed. It can also assist in reducing someone's exposure under the federal sentencing guidelines. The penalties that attach to Medicare fraud include prison, restitution and large fines. The amount of prison time a person faces is directly proportionate to the amount of money fraudulently received from the federal healthcare program.
Clinic Operator Sentenced for Medicare Fraud, South Florida Business Journal, February 5, 2010.