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Pasco's man of disguises accused of scamming Medicare

TAMPA — A man who made international headlines two years ago for his stockpile of fake badges and assorted military, medical and law enforcement uniforms now faces new charges of lying.

Roy M. Antigua, 55, who called his addiction to impersonating people "crazy" in a tearful 2012 Pasco County jailhouse interview, was arrested in Miami in May as part of a national Medicare fraud sting, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

A grand jury in Tampa federal court handed up an indictment this week saying that Antigua used a fake master's of social work diploma to get hired at two New Port Richey home health care providers. Those providers then filed Medicare claims for services he said he performed for patients. But those services are covered under Medicare only when a qualified worker provides them, the indictment says.

The government wants at least $114,000 back if he's convicted.

Antigua's many disguises began to unravel in August 2012, when he drove to the New Port Richey police station to discuss a dispute. An officer pulled Antigua over as he left for driving without a valid license. Antigua presented a Coast Guard ID, but the officer, a military man himself, thought it looked fake.

Antigua permitted police to search his home, where they found a trove of uniforms and supplies, as well as dozens of identification badges: NASA, the Navy, the CIA and more. Antigua had military medals, medical scrubs and a doctor's bag with a badge labeling him a physician's assistant. Authorities were baffled.

The then-New Port Richey police chief, James Steffens, asked: "Who is Roy Antigua?"

From jail, Antigua told a Times reporter the impersonations never hurt anyone.

"I was actually filling that void inside of me," he said then. "The void of emptiness, you know, of, sometimes, despair. Of wanting to feel better."

In late 2012, Antigua pleaded no contest to two counts of falsely impersonating an officer.

The new charges add another layer to Antigua's complex history of misrepresentation.

According to a court affidavit, Antigua presented documents claiming he had the master's degree from Boston University to Interim Healthcare in New Port Richey, which hired him as a medical social worker in August 2011. In November 2011, MediHome Health Care in New Port Richey hired him, too.

According to the affidavit, Antigua performed health care services while employed with Interim until July 2012 and with MediHome until April 2012.

"There is no indication that the companies he worked for knew of his scam," U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman Amy Filjones wrote in an email. "At this time, no charges have been filed against the companies."

A representative for Interim could not be reached Thursday afternoon, and MediHome's New Port Richey office has since closed.

Antigua is charged with two federal counts of false statements and one count of possessing official badges. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines per count of false statements, and six months and $5,000 for possessing badges.

"We're sending a strong, clear message to anyone seeking to defraud Medicare," the Justice Department said in a statement about the fraud take-down. "You will get caught, and you will pay the price."

Contact Claire McNeill at cmcneill@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3339. Follow @clairemcneill.

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