Two of America’s “Most Wanted” health care fraud fugitives were sentenced in Florida last week. Two sisters, Caridad Guilarte and Clara Guilarte, owned a fraudulent medical clinic near Detroit that lead to a $9.1 million Medicare fraud scheme. Each of the sisters face 14 years in prison.
In August the sisters plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering but then fled the US to Panama and then to Venezuela to avoid arrest. This landed them on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General’s (HHH-OIG) Most Wanted Fugitives list! Law enforcement authorities in Columbia arrested the ladies and returned them to the United States in March of this year. The Guilartes consented to have their cases transferred to the Southern District of Florida for plea and sentencing. As part of her plea, Caridad Guilarte agreed to forfeit approximately $465,000, which was seized by the FBI as part of its investigation.
According to court documents, the Guilartes opened Dearborn Medical Rehabilitation Center (DMRC) in November 2005 solely for the purpose of defrauding Medicare. DMRC purported to be an infusion clinic that administered infusions of exotic and expensive medications to patients suffering serious illnesses, such as HIV and Hepatitis-C. Between November 2005 and March 2007, DMRC submitted more than $9 million in claims to Medicare for infusion treatments and related services.
The Guilartes admitted that they purchased only a small fraction of the medications billed to Medicare. The Medicare beneficiaries who visited DMRC did not need infusion treatments, but instead came to DMRC because they were bribed to do so with the payment of cash kickbacks. The Guilartes recruited a number of individuals to assist them in defrauding Medicare, including beneficiary recruiters, who paid cash kickbacks, and a doctor, to give the clinic an appearance of legitimacy.
Medicare paid in excess of $6 million to DMRC. The Guilartes laundered the proceeds of the fraud through various co-conspirators and a series of shell corporations, which had no legitimate business function. More than 10 individuals have pleaded guilty to health care fraud and/or money laundering in connection with the DMRC scheme – Source.
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