As we've been warning for years.
In The Miami Herald:
Feds in Miami: Millions stolen from Medicare wound up in Cuban banking system
In a first, federal prosecutors have charged a Miami man with engaging in a massive money laundering scheme that moved millions stolen from the federal Medicare program into Cuban banks.
In an unprecedented case, federal prosecutors have charged a Miami man with engaging in a massive money laundering scheme that moved millions stolen from the federal Medicare program into Cuban banks.
Prosecutors in Miami say Oscar Sanchez, 46, was a key leader in a group that funneled more than $31 million in Medicare dollars into banks in Havana — the first such case that directly traces money fleeced from the beleaguered program into the Cuban banking system.
Prosecutors are asking a judge on Monday to deny a bond to Sanchez, who was indicted last week by a grand jury in Miami on charges of conspiring to commit money laundering.
“Oscar Sanchez was a financier for fraudsters and a capitalist for the Cuban banks,” Assistant U.S. Attorney H. Ron Davidson wrote in a court motion seeking to keep Sanchez in custody pending trial, due to the likelihood he would try to flee.
“The location of millions of dollars is unknown, and a vast fortune is likely sitting in a Communist country that will not extradite Oscar Sanchez, a Cuban national, back to the United States to face criminal charges," Davidson wrote.
Sanchez made 78 overseas trips in the past 10 years, the motion states.
Prosecutors say Sanchez was among a group of international money launderers who set up an intricate system to move money fleeced from fraudulent HIV treatment and medical equipment billings, first through banks in Canada and Trinidad and eventually Cuba.
Typically, Medicare fraudsters operated medical clinics that submitted millions in bogus claims for infusion therapy to treat patients with HIV and AIDS. But the infusion treatments, administered intravenously, were neither prescribed by doctors nor provided to patients.
As part of the Sanchez case, prosecutors are asking the court to seize seven homes he owned in Miami-Dade, Lee and Collier counties as well as two vehicles.
The case is the first alleging a direct money connection between the explosive Medicare fraud in South Florida, and Cuba, a well-known hiding place for dozens of fugitives who have fled after ripping off the federal program.
As Medicare crime spreads across South Florida, accused scammers are escaping in droves to Cuba and other Latin American countries to avoid prosecution — with more than 150 fugitives now wanted for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S. healthcare program, according to the FBI and court records.
Most of the fugitives were born in Cuba, immigrated to South Florida after 1990 and can easily live under the radar in Latin America with hundreds of thousands or millions in taxpayer dollars fleeced from Medicare.
Even if fugitives can be located in Cuba, there’s no way to get them back because of the political realities at play.
Because so many of the Medicare defendants are Cuban, rumors have swirled for years that the Castro government has purposely trained and deployed immigrants to take over Medicare-licensed clinics in South Florida, and then harbored them after they returned home. But federal agents and prosecutors, while privately speculating about an official Cuba connection, have had a hard time linking Fidel and Raul Castro’s regime to the rampant healthcare fraud on this side of the Florida Straits.
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06/17 - 06/24
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