Three Miami residents have been indicted for their alleged participation in a $190 million Medicare fraud scheme.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Christopher B. Dennis of the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations Miami Office made the announcement after the indictment was unsealed.
On Jan. 28, 2014, a federal grand jury in Miami returned a 10-count indictment charging Nelson Rojas, 43, Roger Bergman, 64, and Rodolfo Santaya, 54, for allegedly participating in a scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting false and fraudulent claims, from approximately December 2002 to October 2010.
Rojas was charged with conspiracy to pay and receive bribes and kickbacks in connection with a federal health care program, conspiracy to commit money laundering, two counts of money laundering and one count of aggravated identity theft. Bergman and Santaya were each charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud. In addition, Bergman was charged with conspiracy to make false statements relating to health care matters. Santaya was also charged with conspiracy to pay and receive bribes and kickbacks in connection with a federal health care program, as well as two counts of receiving bribes and kickbacks in connection with a federal health care benefit program.
According to the indictment, Rojas, Bergman and Santaya allegedly participated in a scheme orchestrated by the owners and operators of American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC) and its management company, Medlink Professional Management Group Inc. ATC and Medlink were Florida corporations headquartered in Miami. ATC operated purported partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness, in seven different locations throughout South Florida. Both corporations have been defunct since October 2010.
The indictment alleges that Bergman was a licensed physician’s assistant who participated in the scheme by, among other things, admitting Medicare beneficiaries to ATC facilities for PHP treatment even though they did not quality for such treatment and falsifying patient records to make it appear as though patients needed, qualified for and actually received legitimate PHP treatment when they did not. The indictment alleges that Santaya served as a patient recruiter who provided ineligible patients to ATC in exchange for kickbacks. The indictment alleges that Rojas was the co-owner of a check cashing business and that he facilitated the payments of bribes and kickbacks from ATC to various patient recruiters.
ATC, Medlink and various owners, managers, doctors, therapists, patient brokers and marketers of ATC and Medlink have pleaded guilty or have been convicted at trial. In September 2011, ATC owner Lawrence Duran was sentenced to 50 years in prison for his role in orchestrating and executing the scheme to defraud Medicare.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Robert A. Zink and Trial Attorney Nicholas E. Surmacz.
Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,700 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $5.5 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.