Owner Of Durable Medical Equipment Company And Three Physicians Charged With Health Care Fraud And Aggravated Identity Theft
SAN JUAN, P.R. – On February 13, 2017, a Federal Grand Jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned a superseding indictment charging Dr. Dante A. Rodríguez-Rivera, Javier Efraín Siverio-Echevarría, Dr. George D. Alcántara-Cardi, Dr. Martha Nieves, Javier Antonio Aguirre- Estrada, and Carlos Maldonado-López with multiple counts of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud and aggravated identity theft. The defendants were arrested today, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Scott Lampert, the Special Agent in Charge of the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS-OIG”), and Douglas A. Leff, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Puerto Rico Field Office (“FBI”).
According to the indictment, from on or about February 20, 2007, and continuing through on or about July 18, 2013, the defendants conspired with each other and with other individuals known and unknown to the grand jury to defraud Medicare. The federal charges stem from an alleged scheme whereby Javier Efraín Siverio-Echevarría, as owner of Equipomed Care Corp., a durable medical equipment company with offices in Hatillo, Puerto Rico, would use the personal identifying information of Medicare beneficiaries, to invoice Medicare for durable medical equipment that these beneficiaries did not need or to whom the equipment would not be delivered.
The indictment alleges that Siverio-Echevarría procured the signature of prescription forms and Medicare documents from doctors who had not seen or examined the Medicare beneficiaries, including in particular Dr. Dante A. Rodríguez-Rivera, Dr. George D. Alcántara-Cardi, and Dr. Martha Nieves, to fraudulently invoice Medicare for durable medical equipment that was not medically necessary for these beneficiaries. Javier Antonio Aguirre-Estrada and Carlos Maldonado-López were employees of Equipomed Care Corp. and they aided the other defendants in the perpetration of the fraudulent scheme by submitting electronic invoices to Medicare and by convincing Medicare beneficiaries to accept medical equipment that they had not requested and that they did not need. The defendants fraudulently invoiced an amount in excess of $1,276,874.10 to Medicare through the three conspiracies charged in the superseding indictment.
“The Medicare system entrusts doctors with the responsibility of ensuring that their patients receive the care and equipment they need to achieve meaningful quality of life,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa E. Rodriguez-Velez. “The charges unsealed today allege that three physicians violated their responsibility to their patients and instead facilitated the means for an equipment company to bill over a million dollars to Medicare for equipment not delivered or not medically necessary. These charges are yet another example of the Department of Justice’s determination to hold those who choose to steal from Medicare for personal gain accountable for the harm they inflict on groups of the most vulnerable individuals in our society: the sick, the elderly and the disabled.”
“We are proud to be a part of the federal team that brought these defendants to justice for defrauding the Medicare program and exploiting the elderly,” said Scott Lampert, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General’s New York Regional Office which also covers Puerto Rico. “Arresting owners and providers, and prosecuting them to the fullest extent possible, are some of the tools that the federal government has available, and will be utilized to remove these individuals from participating in the Medicare program”.
Pursuant to the charges, the defendants face potential penalties of up to ten years of imprisonment for the conspiracy to commit health care fraud or the health care fraud charges, and a mandatory minimum term of two years of imprisonment for the aggravated identity theft charges.
This case was investigated by the HHS-OIG, FBI, United States Secret Service and the Puerto Rico Police Department and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennise N. Longo Quiñones of the Financial Fraud and Corruption Unit.
Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.
|Written by Susen Sawatzki
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