Miami Couple Sentenced For Operating Clinic to Defraud Medicare
On June 29, 2015, U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew sentenced Gladys Fuertes, 41, and Mario Fuertes, 41, of Miami for operating a sham clinic. Gladys Fuertes was sentenced to 19 years and 6 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, healthcare fraud, aggravated identity theft, and obstruction of healthcare fraud investigation. Mario Fuertes was sentenced to 11 years and 3 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, healthcare fraud, and obstruction of a healthcare fraud investigation. The couple was ordered to forfeit $1,036,759.72. A federal jury convicted the Fuerteses on March 24, 2015.
According to a Department of Justice release, the couple established and operated Gables Medical and Therapy Center for the purpose of committing healthcare fraud by employing unlicensed medical professionals. The Fuerteses misused the Medicare billing numbers of other medical professionals, without their knowledge, in order to claim medical treatments.
Prosecutors say Gladys and Mario Fuertes paid a co-conspirator to recruit Medicare beneficiaries and to drive patients to the Gables Medical for basic and sham medical services. The couple fraudulently billed Universal Medicare in excess of $900,000 for treatments not rendered and for treatments requiring a physician’s presence.
Gladys and Mario Fuertes also facilitated the provision of fraudulent prescriptions for controlled substances to Gables patients and allowed a co-conspirator to assist patients in filling prescriptions for controlled substances such as oxycodone, according to the Department of Justice. The co-conspirator also purchased the controlled substances from Gables patients and sold them on the street.
Gladys and Mario Fuertes also obstructed the federal investigation by instructing Gables Medical patients to lie to law enforcement agents. The couple provided federal agents with altered Medicare documentation.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 2,300 defendants who collectively billed the Medicare program for over $7 billion, according to a Department of Justice report.