10 ALF owners indicted on kickback and fraud charges

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Ten owners of assisted living facilities in Florida have been charged with receiving kickbacks and bribes in return for referring residents to a particular pharmacy, Florida Pharmacy Inc., to buy prescriptions and durable medical equipment that subsequently were paid for through federal Medicare funds and state Medicaid funds.

The 30-count indictment, announced by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida on Tuesday, also alleges that the facility owners committed healthcare fraud by violating the terms of the non-institutional Medicaid provider agreements they signed and submitted. In those agreements, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the owners promised to comply with state and federal laws and all agency rules contained in the Florida Medicaid Provider Handbook, which prohibits asking for or accepting kickbacks.

“As a result of the defendants' submission of these false and fraudulent documents, Medicaid renewed their provider numbers, which allowed them to continue to submit claims for services purportedly rendered to eligible Medicaid beneficiaries,” the U.S. Attorney's Office said. “The defendants caused their assisted living facilities to submit false claims to Medicaid. As a result of these false and fraudulent claims, Medicaid made payments to the assisted living facilities owned and operated by the defendants.”

Named in the indictment are Yeny De Erbiti, Marlene Marrero and Rene Vega of Miami;  Alicia Almeida, Norma Casanova and Maribel Galvan of Miami Lakes; Jorge Rodriguez and Osniel Vera of Hialeah; Blanca Orozco of Miramar; and Dianelys Perez of Miami Gardens.

The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force under the supervision of U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida and is being investigated by the FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and Florida's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

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