Bail denied to Miami TV star caught up in Medicare fraud case

 

eflor@elnuevoherald.com

A Miami federal judge denied bail Tuesday to TV entrepreneur Roberto Marrero, indicted on charges of stealing millions in a massive Medicare fraud scheme.

Justice John O. Sullivan denied the petition because of Marrero’s potential flight risk. Marrero has traveled to Cuba on four occasions, according to government arguments presented at the 40-minute hearing.

Defense attorney Frederick S. Robbins was upset by Sullivan’s decision.

“I disagree [with the decision], but I hope Mr. Marrero will eventually be freed on bail,” Robbins said after the hearing. “I honestly believe he is not a flight risk.”

Justice Department attorney Brendan Stewart said Marrero and his wife Sandra Fernández Viera, presented false invoices for more than $20 million to the Medicare program covering alleged house health-care services provided to diabetic patients.

Stewart said that Marrero received more than $15 million of that amount.

The indictment says the couple was part of a network of 89 people who conspired to commit Medicare fraud in an operation that extended from Miami to Detroit to Los Angeles. The group, which includes doctors, nurses and clinic operators, was charged collectively of conspiring to scam $223 million from Medicare.

Marrero, who appeared at the hearing handcuffed and shackled and dressed in khaki prison garb, is the owner of Cubana de Televisión’s local cable station. He and his wife were co-owners of Trust Care Health Services in Miami from 2007 to 2010.

Robbins said Marrero was not involved in the day-to-day operations, though he was the company’s titleholder.

“There is no question that he was the president of the company,” Robbins said. “But he did not manage the day-to-day operations. He made no payments to Medicare beneficiaries.”

Stewart said Marrero had recruiters of phony Medicare beneficiaries.

The indictment says that the couple paid thousands of dollars a month to Enrique Rodríguez, who provided patients with Medicare cards. Rodríguez was included in the indictment, charged with bribing Medicare patients.

At the hearing, Stewart said Marrero received $4 million deposited in corporations he had set up, in addition to more than $5 million from invoices issued by Trust Care Health Services.

Also, according to the indictment, his wife received $400,000 for Trust Care invoices.

Marrero said briefly that he no longer had money and that he had used it to pay the nearly 250 employees of the local TV station.

Relatives and friends who attended the hearing refused to comment.

Marrero comes from a family of Cuban actors and has played supporting roles in television series like Miami Vice, America’s Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries. In 2008, he opened a cable television studio in Allapattah and later transferred the business to Miami Beach. The channel has remained off the air since Marrero and his wife were arrested in mid-May.

According to the indictment, the Marreros sent illegal invoices to Medicare for services rendered to 700 diabetic patients who allegedly could not inject themselves with the insulin they needed and required the help of expensive trained nurses.

Additionally, the couple billed Medicare for physical therapy the patients did not need, according to the indictment.

The government program approved most of the invoices the couple sent.

Read more Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

  • Friends and Neighbors

    Friends and Neighbors: Campaign raises money to feed hungry school children

    Local food banks want to help children who often go hungry get what they need to thrive in school. Community support is needed.

  • Friends and Neighbors

    Florida Mayors join forces to say no to bullies

    Looking back at my growing up days, I can remember how school bullies tried to made life miserable for me and a lot of other youngsters. I remember being followed home one day by a bully who wanted to start a fight. When I kept ignoring her, she soon turned, with her followers and went home. Unlike some of today’s bullies, she didn’t try to hit me. She was just all mouth, spitting out insulting remarks.

  • Crime Watch

    Crime Watch: How to protect your children online

    School will be starting soon and many of you emailed me regarding the social network sites that your kids will be using this year. Nowadays it’s not just the computer at home but also their smartphones. You need to consider blocking your kids’ phones from some of these sites. Check with your telephone carrier to see what programs they have to offer in protecting kids.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category