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12 arrested in Miami-based medical fraud scheme

Suspects accused of over-billing insurance companies

MIAMI – A dozen people were arrested Monday in Miami-Dade County for their roles in medical fraud schemes, authorities said.

Miami police and federal agents joined together in "Operation Depends" to arrest three employees of Brothers Medical Center at 3990 W. Flagler St., including a doctor, therapist and woman who works at the front desk.

Those people have been identified as Dr. Angel Amado Lazo, 79, Clara Serguera, 43, and Arlene Hernandez Garcia, 32.

Detectives said the investigation began in September, when an undercover officer went into the clinic, claiming that he was in a car accident and needed therapy.

Police said the officer went to the clinic once, but his insurance was billed thousands of dollars in fraudulent claims.

"There wasn't any type of treatment whatsoever," an undercover detective with the National Insurance Crime Bureau said. "They were just billing the insurance companies for services not rendered, and this is something that goes on time and time again."

Another nine people were arrested at another clinic in West Kendall.

Detectives said Miami is the "capital of the country for medical fraud," and these types of clinics are an epidemic in the country.

"We're the capital of the world when it comes to these types of fraud," Miami police Officer Rene Pimentel said. "Medical fraud is huge here in South Florida, and we're trying to do whatever we can to stop it."

Police said the illegal schemes are affecting insurance rates across the U.S. and are costing victims hundreds of millions of dollars.

"The ones that are really enriching themselves are the doctors and these fake clinics, but we're all paying for this at the end," Pimentel said.

The three suspects arrested at Brothers Medical Center are charged with filing fraudulent insurance claims, grand theft and organized scheme to defraud. The suspects arrested at the West Kendall clinic face similar charges, including some federal charges.