Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Record-breaking Medicare fraud case includes 10 arrests in Tampa area

Federal, state and county authorities Thursday morning shut down the Cosmopolitan Clinic and Cortez Drugs in Brooksville.


Federal, state and county authorities Thursday morning shut down the Cosmopolitan Clinic and Cortez Drugs in Brooksville.

TAMPA — In the largest Medicare fraud case in U.S. history, law enforcement agents have charged 111 people in nine cities with filing millions of dollars in bogus claims.

In the Tampa Bay area, authorities charged 10 people, including clinic owners, a pharmacy owner and a Clearwater physician. Their claims totaled about $5 million, federal officials said.

The arrests are the latest in a string of major cases over the last two years as authorities have worked to cut down fraud that costs the government between $60 billion and $90 billion each year.

Thursday's indictments were for suspects in Tampa, Miami, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Detroit, Chicago, Brooklyn, N.Y., and Baton Rouge, La.

The government's loss: $225 million.

"We're sending a clear message that if you're involved in health care fraud, the Department of Justice and the FBI and all our partners will ferret out these schemes," said Steven Ibison, special agent in charge of the FBI's Tampa office.

In Clearwater, physician Jayam Krishna Iyer has been accused of submitting about $457,000 in claims for services she did not perform.

Another doctor at Creative Health Center did the work, officials say, but that physician did not file the claims because he is excluded from the Medicare program due to a prior felony conviction for accepting kickbacks for referrals.

Iyer got about $165,000 for submitting the claims, a federal indictment states.

Her attorney, George Tragos, said Iyer thought she was following the law when she submitted bills for services her employee performed. The patients received the services and there have been no reported complaints, Tragos said.

Iyer has faced federal charges before. In 2000, she was accused of prescribing painkillers to three undercover agents even though they told her they were not in pain.

The charges were dropped when Iyer completed a pretrial diversion program.

However, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration revoked her registration in 2006, saying she had violated federal law. An appeals court set aside that order in 2007, allowing Iyer to resume prescribing.

Also arrested were:

• Abel Fuentes of Nebraska Medical Equipment in Tampa, accused of submitting $1.7 million in claims for equipment and services that were not provided.

• Five employees of Dynamic Physical Therapy Inc., accused of stealing Medicare numbers and filing about $649,000 in fraudulent claims.

• Patrick Crisler, owner of Active Life Rehab in Inverness, accused of submitting $1.28 million in fraudulent claims for occupational therapy services that were not provided. Crisler used Medicaid provider numbers of licensed therapists without their consent to bill for the never-performed services, an indictment states.

• Mira Matchin, owner of Panseonat Miracle in Sarasota County, charged in connection with a scheme to submit about $1 million in claims to Medicare for physical therapy services that were not provided.

• Harsh Mehta, a New Port Richey pharmacy owner, accused of defrauding Tricare, the Defense Department health benefits program. Officials say he billed Tricare for medications that weren't dispensed.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Times staff writer Jamal Thalji and news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or

Record-breaking Medicare fraud case includes 10 arrests in Tampa area 02/17/11 [Last modified: Friday, February 18, 2011 11:08am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Before Janessa Shannon's death, parents traded accusations of abuse


    TAMPA — Long before Janessa Shannon's remains were discovered in a Hillsborough County nature preserve, her parents tried to convince court officials that she was in danger.

    From her own family.

    Janessa Shannon, 13, was found dead July 12 in the Triple Creek Nature Preserve in Hillsborough County. [National Center for Missing and Exploited Children]
  2. Ronde Barber: Want intimidation? Look at past Bucs teams


    Ronde Barber says these days "it's hard to find throwbacks, where you go, 'That guy is a badass.' Where do you find that now? It's such a show-off sport." (Times 2012)
  3. ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of July 16, 2017


    Seems like Broward County has started a domino effect. It was the first school board to commit to filing a lawsuit against the state and its controversial education bill, House Bill 7069. Then, the St. Lucie County School Board signed on, too. A running tally of school boards that have reportedly expressed interested in …

    Kali Davis (left), training director for Springboard to Success, helps to coach Justin Black (center), who will be starting his third year of teaching PE at Melrose Elementary, as he works to instruct students in a math lesson during the Spring Board program of Summer Bridge at Woodlawn Elementary School in St. Petersburg.
  4. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally


    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.