73 South Florida residents charged in Medicare, Medicaid fraud schemes

Authorities say health care fraud takedown largest in U.S. history

MIAMI - More than six dozen South Florida residents have been charged in what state and federal authorities are calling the largest national health care fraud takedown in U.S. history.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi joined the FBI and other federal agencies in announcing charges against 73 individuals Thursday in Miami.

Authorities claim the suspects took part in various schemes to defraud Medicare and Medicaid out of more than $262 million.

The charges in South Florida are part of a nationwide takedown in 17 cities that resulted in charges against 243 people involving about $712 million in false billings.

Among those charged nationally are more than 46 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals.

"We have doctors, therapists, nurses, clinic owners, pharmacy owners, employees of these businesses, money launderers and patient recruiters," Miami U.S. attorney Wifredo Ferrer said.

Bondi said the coordinated takedown is the largest in strike force history.

"When you charge for a medical procedure you never performed, for something a patient never needed or asked for, and steal millions from our taxpayers, we are coming after you," Bondi said.
Bondi's office investigated two Miami Lakes residents for submitting false claims to Medicare and Medicaid.

Odette Sanchez, 37, and Roque X. Garcia, 62, face charges of conspiracy to commit health-care fraud and wire fraud and three counts of substantive health care fraud.

Sanchez was the former owner of Limited Home Health Care Inc., while Garcia was the former director of nursing for the company.

"Each and every one of us who pays taxes is a victim of this crime," Ferrer said.

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