An owner of a now-defunct Miami pharmacy was sentenced today to 46 months in prison for his participation in a scheme that caused Medicare to pay $2.5 million in false and fraudulent claims for prescription drugs that were never purchased.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Shimon R. Richmond of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement.
Gregory Sanchez, 44, of Miami Lakes, Florida, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro of the Southern District of Florida. Judge Ungaro also ordered Sanchez to pay $2,507,942 in restitution, jointly and severally with his co-conspirators, and to forfeit the same amount. Sanchez pleaded guilty in September 2018 to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
According to admissions made as part of his plea agreement, Sanchez was an undisclosed co-owner of Med Health Equipment, LLC (Med Health), which purported to operate as a pharmacy. Sanchez admitted that he and his co-conspirators used Med Health to fraudulently bill Medicare by submitting claims for prescription drugs that Med Health never purchased and never dispensed. To carry out the fraudulent scheme, Sanchez and his co-conspirators paid and caused the payment of kickbacks to patient recruiters in exchange for the referral of Medicare beneficiaries to Med Health. As a result of fraudulent claims submitted in connection with the scheme, Medicare paid Med Health approximately $2.5 million, Sanchez admitted.
Five co-conspirators were charged separately in this case. Lazaro Perez, 55, of Miramar, Florida, and Maria Estrada, 40, of Doral, Florida, both additional co-owners of Med Health, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and were sentenced in April 2018 and August 2018 to serve 63 and 57 months in prison, respectively. Yulieth Dominguez Gonzalez, 40, of Miami, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to receive kickbacks and was sentenced in June 2018 to serve 21 months in prison. Rosa Menendez, 65, of Homestead, Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and was sentenced in October 2018 to serve 18 months in prison. Pablo Garcia Menendez, another co-owner of Med Health, was charged by indictment in February 2018 and remains a fugitive.
All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, which 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. Trial Attorney David Snider of the Fraud Section is prosecuting the case.
The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 14 strike forces operating in 23 districts, has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
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