12 Face Fraud Charges - Medicare Scheme Involved $5 Million
By LISA OCKER Staff Writer
An indictment unsealed on Tuesday charges a dozen people, including the son of a Cuban exile leader, in a scheme that defrauded Medicare and Medicaid of more than $5 million over three years, federal prosecutors said.
Huber Rogelio Matos Araluce, 49, and Juana Mayda Perez Batista, 36, named as principals in the indictment, are accused of filing more than $5 million in false Medicare and Medicaid claims for unnecessary services provided to people brought to health care businesses they operated in Miami. Matos, who formerly served as spokesman of Cuba Independent and Democratic, is the son of Cuban exile leader Huber Matos, who heads that Miami-based anti-Castro organization.
According to the indictment, returned in March by a federal grand jury in Miami, Matos and Perez hired "recruiters" to bring in Medicare or Medicaid-eligible people for medical services, which were charged to Medicare or Medicaid.
Matos and Perez paid recruiters $30 to $150 for each person they referred, according to the indictment. The people recruited were then subjected to unnecessary tests, and the defendants submitted fraudulent claims to government agencies, the indictment said.
The health care businesses run by Matos and Perez between October 1989 and February 1992 were Florida Medical & Diagnostic Center Inc., a health care clinic; Test & Diagnostic Center Inc., a diagnostic testing company; Multi-Specialists Inc., a group of medical specialists; and Elmes Corp., a provider of medical equipment, all in Miami, according to the indictment.
Matos and Perez set up two other Florida corporations, Publiart and Publimark, to launder their profits, the indictment said. Perez was arrested on Friday at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York as she returned from a trip to Venezuela, FBI spokesman Wayne Russell said. As she passed through immigration, a criminal check revealed a warrant for her arrest on the indictment, he said.
Matos and 11 others named in the indictment were still being sought on Tuesday.
Matos could not be reached for comment. The senior Matos hung up the phone on a Sun-Sentinel reporter.
Others charged, according to the indictment, are Vicente Mompo, 73, a physician who practiced at Florida Medical & Diagnostic Center; Gilberto Rodriguez-Abreu, 44, an unlicensed physician working at the center; center employees Carlos Lastres, 31; Jose Matute, 38; and Gladys Soberon, 61; and recruiters Amanda Ibarra, 46; Martha Aguero, 52; Concepcion Gil, 50; Nancy Foster, 54; and Azucena Perez, 40. All of those named in the indictment are current or former Dade County residents.