Money laundering for Medicare fraud alleged
South Florida may be famous for sun, sand, and celebrities, but it’s also famous for money laundering tied to Medicare fraud. A Cuban businessman charged in Florida with laundering nearly $240 million in fraudulent Medicare payments in 2012 has planted himself firmly in Spain in hopes of avoiding a U.S. court date and likely prison sentence.
The Miami Herald reports that Jorge Emilio Perez de Morales, who has evaded arrest by staying in Spain, recently sought dismissal of charges based on his claim that his remittance company was based outside of U.S. jurisdiction, but a Miami judge rejected that motion.
The 2012 indictment “accuses Perez of using his Cuba-licensed remittance company, Caribbean Transfers, to supply vast amounts of cash to Medicare fraud offenders in the United States in exchange for transferring their tainted Medicare proceeds through his shell companies in Canada via Trinidad to Cuba.”
According to the allegations, Caribbean Transfers remittance company collected large amounts of clean cash by receiving cash transfers from Cuban exiles sending money home to their families in Cuba. This clean cash would then be transferred to fraudulent Medicare service providers who would recruit Medicare ‘patients’ whose fraudulent medical care, supplies, and services could then be billed to the U.S. government. To date, Spain has not acted on U.S. requests for extradition of Perez de Morales.
Miami’s FBI field office estimates that there are around 160 Medicare fraudsters and money launderers with ties to Cuba on the lam from south Florida alone. Cuban-born immigrants involved in Medicare scams tend to flee to Cuba, Mexico, and other Spanish-speaking nations, according to the FBI. In fact, the FBI often files its charges quietly in order to attempt to arrest alleged perpetrators before they have the opportunity to flee.
Perez de Morales and those other 160 alleged Medicare fraudsters and money launderers from south Florida are believed to be responsible for hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of theft from U.S. taxpayers. That is just a drop in the bucket of the billions defrauded from the program. In 2016, the Justice Department and FBI filed charges alleging a billion-dollar Medicare and Medicaid fraud ring in south Florida. The alleged mastermind of that operation, Philip Esformes formerly of Chicago, remains jailed as a flight and obstruction risk while he awaits trial in the fall of 2017.
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