10 South Florida assisted living facility owners charged with Medicaid fraud

Ten South Florida assisted-living facility owners have been charged with taking kickbacks after referring their residents to a local pharmacy in order to bilk the federal Medicare program, authorities said Tuesday.

The owners received cash kickbacks for referring residents in the ALFs to the former owner of Florida Pharmacy Inc., a Miami-Dade County company, for medications and medical equipment paid for by Medicare.

Prosecutors said the ALF owners violated state law when they falsely signed a Medicaid agreement that they would comply with all provisions of the law.

Those ALF owners also submitted false claims to Medicaid for purported services for the residents.

“This extensive investigation uncovered a massive kickback scheme targeting our seniors, but working together with our great federal partners, this health-care fraud scheme has been thwarted and 10 suspects are now in police custody,” said Florida Attorney General Bondi, whose office worked with the FBI, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and federal prosecutors in Miami.

The defendants named in the indictement: Yeny De Erbiti, 51, Marlene Marrero, 60, and Rene Vega, 57, all of Miami; Alicia Almeida, 56, Norma Casanova, 67, and Maribel Galvan, 43, all of Miami Lakes; Osniel Vera, 47, and Jorge Rodriguez, 57, both of Hialeah; Dianelys Perez, 34, Miami Gardens; and Blanca Orozco, 67, of Miramar.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal