Medicare fraud in the U.S. and the Cuba-Castro connection
For Cuban exiles and Cuban Americans living in the U.S. -- in particular South Florida -- the Cuba-Castro connection with the rampant Medicare fraud that takes place in this country comes as no surprise. Since its terrorist nascent days, the "Revolution" of Fidel Castro continues to operate like an international crime organization. From assassinations to terrorist acts, money laundering to theft, Cuba's dictatorship has agents all over the world seeking new criminal ways to enrich the Castro crime family.
Since South Florida is the primary landing point for Cubans coming to the U.S., it makes sense that it has become the nation's capital for Medicare fraud. The Cuban regime has made millions of dollars defrauding the U.S. government and is now harboring dozens of fugitives who carried out their plans.
FBI tracking down Medicare fraud fugitives from South Florida
In Miami’s very deep sea of Medicare fraud, Carmen Gonzalez was a minnow.
So when federal agents recently nabbed her after five years on the lam, it didn’t exactly make a splash. But her arrest was the latest in an under-the-radar round-up of fugitive scammers who have branded Miami with the dubious title of the nation’s capital of healthcare corruption.
Gonzalez had played a supporting role in one of the region’s biggest, baddest Medicare rip-offs. She first worked as a cleaning lady, and then as a nurse who paid kickbacks to patients, for the notorious Benitez brothers — three sharks who ran 11 Miami-Dade clinics that swindled a staggering $84 million from the taxpayer-funded program, authorities say.
In the spring of 2008, Gonzalez and her father, Enrique, who also worked for the Benitez brothers, fled Miami after they were separately charged. The brothers — Carlos, Luis and Jose — also left Miami soon after they were indicted that May.
Where did they all go? Cuba — No. 1 among Latin American destinations of choice for South Florida’s Medicare fraud fugitives. Together, they stole hundreds of millions of dollars by filing billions in false claims for everything from medical equipment to HIV-therapy infusion drugs.
Gonzalez and some 30 other defendants have been captured over the last half-dozen years, with the pace of arrests beginning to pick up this year. There are still another 150 fugitives from outstanding Medicare fraud cases in South Florida, most of them Cuban-born immigrants who fled to Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and other Spanish-speaking countries to evade federal trials. View more of the fugitives in our database.
With the exception of Cuba, several foreign countries with U.S. extradition treaties have assisted federal authorities with making arrests and returning fugitives to the United States.
Though progress has been plodding, agents have collared 10 fugitives this year alone, compared to a previous pace of one every couple of months, said Randall Culp, the FBI special agent who supervises healthcare fraud investigations in South Florida.
“We’ve been whittling down the number on a case-by-case basis,” Culp said. “Agents are persistent in trying to locate the fugitives and eventually law enforcement catches up with them.”
“Sometimes we just get lucky.”
Continue reading HERE.