The owner of a Miami Beach pharmacy who received more than $8.4 million from Medicare over a six-year period for prescription drugs he never dispensed to beneficiaries was sentenced Dec. 18 to more than seven years in prison.
On top of the prison sentence, Antonio Perez Jr., 48, of Miami Beach, will also have to pay the U.S. $8,415,824 in restitution and forfeit the same amount, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a Dec. 18 announcement. The forfeiture includes Miami-area properties worth about $700,000 that Mr. Perez owns and multiple bank accounts totaling more than $250,000.
Mr. Perez was the owner of A.R.A. Medical Services Inc., which did business under the name Valles Pharmacy Discount. Federal prosecutors said Mr. Perez admitted to paying illegal kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for a promise from the beneficiaries to fill their prescriptions at Valles Pharmacy Discount.
Another part of the Medicare fraud scheme involved Mr. Perez submitting claims to Medicare for expensive prescription drugs that his pharmacy never purchased and that were never dispensed to Medicare beneficiaries.
The DOJ determined that during the course of the fraud scheme, Medicare paid Valles Pharmacy Discount more than $32 million, and at least $8.4 million of that amount was for prescription medications Valles Pharmacy never bought or provided to Medicare beneficiaries.
Medicare fraud is so rampant in parts of the United States that the federal government operates a group of Medicare Fraud Strike Force teams in more than a dozen metropolitan areas and regions, including Miami, Tampa and Orlando.
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force teams combine federal, state, and local resources to monitor health care activity and crack down on doctors, clinics, pharmacies, and other medical professionals and practices that cheat Medicare.
Since March 2007, when the Medicare Fraud Strike Force was launched, nearly 4,000 defendants have been charged, representing fraudulent Medicare billings of more than $14 billion.