In a region notorious for Medicare fraud, this one is for the record books: a massive scam to steal $1 billion from the taxpayer-funded program was shattered on Friday when federal agents arrested the South Florida ringleader and his partners.
Federal prosecutors said it was the biggest Medicare fraud scheme in the nation’s history, costing the U.S. government program for the elderly and disabled hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent payments.
Although humongous, the scheme was all too familiar in the country’s capital of healthcare corruption. The lead defendant organized a network of skilled nursing homes and assisted-living facilities while billing Medicare for $1 billion in home healthcare services such as physical therapy that were not medically necessary. Recruiters were paid kickbacks for supplying supposedly home-bound Medicare patients, authorities said.
To put this Medicare scheme in context, the healthcare network’s billing activity equaled the amount of money that convicted Fort Lauderdale Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein churned while he ripped off wealthy investors from Florida to New York.
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On Friday, Justice Department officials and U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer will provide details of the Medicare fraud indictment at a news conference scheduled for 10 a.m. Agents with the FBI and Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General who led the investigation will also be joining them.
More information will be provided as it becomes available.