MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A nearly yearlong investigation into two South Florida clinics ended with the arrest of several people who now face felony charges.
Local 10 News was the only station that rode along with investigators from Florida's Department of Investigative and Forensic Services Bureau of Insurance Fraud and the Miami Police Department as they raided the clinics accused of paying for patients and fraudulent billing.
Investigators said Erlan Diaz was in charge of billing at E-Z Medical Center in Hialeah. Diaz waved at the camera and denied the theft allegations as officers led him away in handcuffs.
"Were you guys providing any actual services at this location?" reporter Amy Viteri asked.
"Of course," Diaz said. "Therapeutic … physical therapy."
But Capt. Emissael Diaz, with Florida's Bureau of Insurance Fraud, told Viteri that E-Z Medical Center and another clinic in Miami, Health in Motion, have been under investigation since early 2017.
Investigators took Health in Motion's owner, Morgan Reyes, into custody during a separate raid at that clinic.
"You have an individual who's known as a runner or an organizer and they will go out and recruit individuals to participate in these fake or staged accidents," Emissael Diaz said.
The captain said the clinics then billed insurance companies for thousands of dollars in treatments they never provided, and everyone got a percentage of the profits.
"The reality is, all of our rates are tied into this type of scheme," Emissael Diaz said.
Investigators also arrested Sanyor Campanioni, of Health in Motion, who was an alleged recruiter in the scheme.
At E-Z Medical Center, officers arrested the billing manager, Erlan Diaz, who they said is also the owner's son, massage therapist Mayte Fernandez, office manager Odalis Rodriguez and Manuel Rosales for acting as an alleged lookout. Investigators also had a warrant for Adael Tapanes, the suspected recruiter working with the clinic.
All are accused of being players in an operation affecting everyone living in South Florida.
"Just in South Florida alone, most of your rates are going to go up 20 to 25 percent just because of the insurance fraud," Emissael Díaz said.
The investigation was a joint effort between Florida's Department of Financial Services Division of Investigative and Forensic Services, Miami police, the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office.
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement: "Fake auto accidents, with their associated fraudulent medical treatments, are real problems for every insurance user. The stolen money always comes from our pockets in the form of higher premiums.
"I am proud to be a part of the law enforcement partnership aimed at rounding up and convicting the alleged perpetrators of such crimes."
"Our message is simple: If you plan to commit insurance fraud in Florida, be prepared to face swift action from our investigative units,” Florida's CFO, Jimmy Patronis, said in a statement. "This case is a true testament of our state and local law enforcement partners combined efforts to bolster Florida's ability to combat insurance fraud."
The suspects taken into custody are facing several charges, including patient brokering, insurance fraud and grand theft.