Ten owners of assisted living facilities in Florida have been indicted for allegedly receiving kickbacks and perpetrating health care fraud, authorities announced Tuesday.
The facilities in question were licensed as assisted living under the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), meaning they provided personal care services for a period exceeding 24 hours to at least one adult not related to the owner or administrator.
Owners of these ALFs purportedly received cash kickbacks and bribes for referring their residents to Florida Pharmacy Inc., a company providing prescription medication and durable medical equipment, according to the 30-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
The 10 individuals also had signed Non-Institutional Medicaid Provider Agreements, which they broke by participating in the kickback scheme, the indictment states. This exposes the ALF owners to charges related to false and fraudulent claims.
“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,” a press release from the U.S. District Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Florida stated.
Among the 10 owners charged is 60-year-old Marlene Marrero of Miami, owner of Senior’s Palace, a 34-bed facility in the Miami-Dade County community of Hialeah. Marrero had not responded to Senior Housing News’ requests for comment as of press time.
The other owners charged are: 69-year-old Blanca Orozco; 67-year-old Norma Casanova; 51-year-old Yeny De Erbiti; 57-year-old Rene Vega; 43-year-old Maribel Galvan; 34-year-old Dianelys Perez; 47-year-old Osniel Vera; 56-year-old Alicia Almeida; and 57-year-old Jorge Rodriguez. They all owned ALFs in the Miami-Dade area.
If convicted, each owner faces a maximum sentence of five years for kickbacks and 10 years for health care fraud. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Hagerenesh Simmons.
Written by Tim Mullaney