The latest Medicare fraud sweep has netted 90 arrests in six cities — including Tampa — involving false billings to the health care program of an estimated $260 million.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer in Miami said Wednesday more than half of the arrests were in South Florida, long the nation's leader in health care fraud.
Arrests were also made in Houston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Brooklyn and Tampa.
In Tampa, seven individuals were charged in a variety of schemes, ranging from fraudulent physical therapy billings to a scheme involving millions of dollars in physician services and tests that never occurred.
In one case, five individuals — David Brock Lovelace, Terri L. Schneider, Gregory J. Sylvestri, Leonard Austin and Illya C. Jackson — were charged for their alleged roles in a health care fraud and money-laundering schemes that involved billing Medicare using names of beneficiaries, according to an indictment. Other indictments for Medicare fraud were handed up against presidents of two Florida rehabilitation clinics, Laura Leyva and Jesus Rabeiro Souto.
Among those arrested nationwide were doctors, nurses and other health professionals, as well as some Medicare beneficiaries who authorities say sell their entitlement to the highest bidders. Another emerging fraud trend is misuse of Medicare's prescription drug benefit through shady pharmacies.
Since 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force teams in nine cities have brought charges against about 1,900 people who falsely billed the taxpayer-funded program more than $6 billion