In 2008, Chief U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno, detecting the phenomenon of Medicare fraud offenders fleeing South Florida, urged magistrate judges be take stricter action on bond requests.
Coloma, who was convicted along with Kallen-Zury of paying more than $1 million in bribes to recruiters for Medicare patients, is a native of Chile who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2008.
Zink, the prosecutor, said the Miami Beach resident, who is facing up to 30 years in prison, has family in Chile and traveled abroad at least 15 times in the last four years to his homeland and to Spain, Ecuador and France.
“The frequency with which he traveled abroad — and to Chile specifically [eight trips] — along with his lack of family ties to the United States, further demonstrates that defendant Coloma is likely to flee to avoid incarceration,” Zink wrote in court papers.
Coloma’s defense attorney, Ronald Gainor, disputed that assertion, saying that when his client was under investigation by federal agents with the FBI and Health and Human Services, he was visiting Greece.
“They talk about all this travel, but he was in Greece when federal agents executed a search warrant on [Hollywood Pavilion] and he returned,” Gainor said, noting this was an issue that came up when Coloma was granted a $500,000 bond last fall.
“His actions speak louder than words,” Gainor said. “It’s pretty clear he’s not a flight risk.”
Zink also argued in court papers that Miller, a Hollywood resident who faces up to 145 years in prison, should have her $300,000 bond revoked.
Zink said Miller was born in Cuba, and that in 2008 she attempted to find work in Venezuela. “These facts favor detention,” he wrote.
Miller’s attorney, Omar Malone, could not be reached for comment.
In June, a federal jury in Miami found that Kallen-Zury conspired with the other defendants to submit false Medicare claims for $67 million. The 12-person jury also found that Medicare was tricked into paying almost $40 million to Hollywood Pavilion, whose CEO and others covered up the scheme by falsifying the records of ineligible patients and marketing contracts with patient recruiters. The recruiters, many convicted felons, were paid more than $1 million for the patient referrals.
The jury found most of the defendants guilty of conspiracy, healthcare fraud, wire fraud and kickback offenses.
One defendant, Gloria Himmons, an Alabama patient broker, pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy and kickback offenses for receiving payments from Hollywood Pavilion for referring Medicare patients with alcohol or drug addictions but did not suffer from mental illness.
The prosecution of Hollywood Pavilion’s executives was the latest crackdown by the Justice Department and U.S. attorney’s office against operators of mental-health facilities accused of bilking the Medicare program.
Three previous major prosecutions led to the convictions of about 80 clinic operators, doctors, therapists and patient recruiters at American Therapeutic, Biscayne Milieu and Health Care Solutions Network in South Florida.
Eight of those convicted defendants testified at the Hollywood Pavilion trial. Among them: Dr. Alan Gumer, a former medical director at the Hollywood Pavilion facility who is facing sentencing in August in the American Therapeutic case, and Keith Humes, a Hollywood Pavilion patient recruiter who is serving a seven-year prison sentence stemming from another Medicare fraud offense.