Fake Doctor Gets 17 Years for Medicare Fraud
A Miami-area woman was recently found guilty of posing as a doctor and engaging in years of health care fraud. Alejandro Collazo pretended to be a doctor at a Hialeah clinic. There she used the identities of real doctors to write thousands of prescription referrals, and tricked patients into thinking she was a real physician.
Collazo and a convicted cocaine dealer, Ricardo Corria, opened Vortex Medical Center and Management Services. Collazo convinced Corria she was an actual doctor so he would help fund the clinic initially and recruit patients. Corria was paid $1,000/week and Collazo paid herself $2,500/week. She also hired an actual physician, Gonzalo Gonzalez, to work in her clinic.
Collazo would refer the patients to local home health care agencies that would in turn pay her kickbacks of $100 for each patient. She would then falsely bill Medicare for unnecessary services. By doing so, she ultimately managed to defraud Medicare of nearly $8.5 million.
Gonzalez soon realized the clinic did not provide actual health care services, but was merely a front to cheat Medicare out of millions of dollars. In response, he reported Collazo to the authorities. She, however, took his identity and used it to write the prescriptions for patient referrals to health care providers. In addition, Collazo was also found to be working as an unlicensed registered nurse in Orlando.
Referrals to Home Health Care Agencies
Typically speaking, under Medicare, if a physician thinks a patients needs home health care, the patient may choose from a list of Medicare-certified home health agencies in their areas. It is a choice reserved entirely to the patient, but doctors frequently offer suggestions for, or refer to, care facilities they know, like, or have a relationship with.
This is not considered health care fraud in and of itself. However, the acceptance of bribes, kickbacks, or fraudulent funds in return for referring certain home health care facilities is illegal, as is collaborating with these home health facilities to defraud Medicare through fraudulent billing practices. Doctors practicing in a group that is engaging in such behavior may be held accountable for the actions of the practice group. It is important that doctors maintain a balanced relationship with home health agencies to whom they refer patients, and to report illegal behavior that may be occurring in their offices or practice groups. This will help limit the illegal activity investigators can attach to the office’s or group’s practice methods or referrals.
If You Think You Need A Lawyer, You Do. Call NOW!!
Have you (or has a loved one) been arrested in a healthcare fraud case? Or do you work for a healthcare company that is under investigation? Have law enforcement agents approached you to talk about the operations of your employer? Are you looking for a skilled attorney who can help defend you against these serious charges in federal or Florida state court?
If you think you need a lawyer, you do. Please contact Attorney Tony Moss at the Tony Moss Firm, L.L.C. to discuss any defense matters. He has offices in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and is prepared to put his 27 years of experience to work for you.