DOJ charges dozens with health care fraud schemes, including $1.9B in fraudulent claims

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department has charged dozens of people in multiple health care fraud and prescription drug schemes, including a case totaling $1.9 billion and a doctor accused of ordering fake ankle braces for a patient whose leg was amputated. was given, officials said on Wednesday.

The agency said the scheme, which accumulated nearly $2 billion in fraudulent claims, is one of the largest health care fraud cases ever brought by the Justice Department. It is one of many announced as part of the crackdown in states across the country.

In all, 78 people in 16 states were charged in a series of separate cases, including an alleged scheme to buy back HIV drugs from patients and then resell the pills.

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Federal investigators said the defendants targeted vulnerable people and used the money earned from them to buy exotic cars, jewelry and yachts. The federal government seized millions of dollars in cash, automobiles and real estate as part of the crackdown.

“The Department of Justice will seek and bring to justice criminals who seek to defraud Americans and steal from taxpayer-funded programs,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

In a case filed in the Southern District of Florida, investigators said they found nearly $2 billion in fraudulent telemedicine claims submitted to government-funded coverage programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, primarily for people age 65 and older, respectively. Covers older people and people with low incomes. No attorney was listed Wednesday for the three people charged in connection with the online platform DMERx, and a message left with the parent company was not immediately returned.

Investigators said those cases included templates for fake doctor orders for braces and pain cream, which were used in exchange for kickbacks and bribes.

In another telemedicine fraud case, prosecutors say a Washington state doctor, David Antonio Becquerel, signed more than 2,800 fraudulent orders, including one for ankle braces for a patient whose leg was amputated years ago Was. He is alleged to have taken less than 40 seconds to review and sign off on each order. One of his attorneys, William Portanova, declined to comment.

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Omar Perez Aybar, special agent in charge of the Miami regional office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in some cases, computer software generated fake doctor orders and patients were never seen or had only a brief conversation with the doctor. Went. Common.

“There were providers and patients all over the country,” he said.

In another case, a Brooklyn man is accused of colluding with others to buy more than $150 million in prescription drugs, including HIV drugs, from suppliers who bought the drugs back from patients. Steven Dimentstein is accused of relabeling drugs for sale. His defense attorney Zack Intrater said Diamantstein has pleaded not guilty to the charges and “looks forward to contesting them in court.”

Perez Aybar said the investigation involved coordination between multiple agencies, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and state Medicaid fraud units.

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