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Miami Medicare Fraud Fugitive Apprehended in Mexico

Posted on January 19, 2010 3:00 AM EST

Posted on Jan 19, 2010 12:00am PST
The federal government appears to be ready, willing and able to leave no stone unturned in an effort to stamp out Medicare fraud. A South Florida resident wanted by federal authorities for his involvement in a Miami Medicare fraud ring was apprehended in Cancun, Mexico. Jose Luis Perez was extradited from Mexico to Miami and indicted for his involvement in a $179 healthcare scheme to defraud. Extradition from Mexico to the United States is not difficult to accomplish by the federal authorities due to the fact that an extradition treaty exists between the two countries. Extradition matters can be difficult and convoluted depending on the arresting country. Extradition matters should only be handled by experienced Miami criminal lawyers.

Federal investigators received information, probably from a co-defendant who entered a plea agreement to receive a sentence reduction, who in turn provided the information to Mexico's Immigration Service. Mexican authorities passed on the tip to the FBI's legal department in Mexico City. The FBI confirmed the fugitive's identity who was then picked up in Cancun by Mexican law enforcement authorities. Perez was extradited to Miami and is scheduled to appear at his initial appearance this week in federal court. Federal prosecutors will no doubt seek pre-trial detention at his bond hearing in that Perez is now without question, a flight risk.

In recent months, many individuals implicated in Miami Medicare fraud cases have fled the United States in an effort to avoid prosecution. About 60 individuals have fled the jurisdiction and sought refuge in Cuba, Mexico and other Latin American countries after allegedly bilking the federal health care program out of hundreds of millions of dollars. Approximately eight Medicare fraud suspects have been apprehended attempting to re-enter the United States at Miami International Airport. The lesson to be learned here is if you are under investigation for Medicare fraud, fleeing the jurisdiction may not absolve you from prosecution. Prior to leaving the jurisdiction, anyone under investigation for this type of offense should retain the services of a Miami criminal attorney experienced in defending Miami Medicare fraud cases to see if there is a viable defense to their case.

Perez was indicted for operating 21 fraudulent medical supply companies in and around the Miami area. He allegedly worked in concert with his co-defendant Reinaldo Guerra. The clinics and medical supply stores were run by straw owners, but federal prosecutors allege that Perez and Guerra reaped all of the monetary benefits. Perez and Guerra are alleged to have received $51 million from Medicare between 2002 and 2004 for medical equipment, such as artificial limbs, that no one ever needed or received. Guerra entered a guilty plea in federal court and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. If Perez enters a guilty plea, he will more than likely receive the same sentence as Guerra.

Fugitive Caught in Cancun, The Miami Herald, January 19, 2010.
Categories: Fraud