The U.S. Department of Justice announced on July 22, 2016 the unsealing of what will be an epic Medicare fraud sweep involving members of the South Florida community, both in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. This is the largest Medicare Fraud crime federal indictment in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice. It involves a network of doctors, hospitals, health care providers, adult living facilities (ALF’s), nursing homes, and private physicians and health care providers who have collectively, (allegedly) fraudulently billed Medicaid and Medicare in excess of one billion dollars.
Named in the unsealed indictment is the owner of a business that owns and operates over 30 facilities for profit that provide nursing and assisted living services. The allegations include conspiracy, bribery, kickbacks and fraudulent billing of services either not provided or, as some unconfirmed reports indicate; provided to dead people. The unsealed indictment is one of many that the joint task force anticipates will be bring dozens of people to court as criminal defendants in federal court in South Florida. The Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health announced it believes in excess of $2.5 Billion of fraudulent charges are paid out every year by Medicare and Medicaid fraudulently and that South Florida is the focus of the task force. Also named in the unsealed indictment is Odette Barcha, 49, and Arnaldo Carmouze, 56, all of Miami-Dade County.
Philip Esformes, the owner of more than 30 facilities, was named as the “mastermind” of the conspiracy. He is represented by attorney Marissel Descalzo and Michael Pasano of the Carton Fields law firm. In 2013, Attorney Michael Pasano also represented Karen Kallen-Zury who was convicted and found guilty, along with others, of running a $70 million Medicare fraud and bribery scheme involving mental health hospitals. Also convicted in the Southern District of Florida in that case was Daisy Miller of Hollywood and Michele Petrie of Fort Lauderdale.