A Miami-Dade mother/daughter duo has pleaded guilty to a $20 million Medicare fraud scheme run through their home healthcare agencies.
According to the Miami Herald, Mildrey Gonzalez, 62, and her daughter, Milka Alfaro, 40, appeared in U.S. District Court to enter their plea: The mother admitted to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and one count of healthcare fraud. The daughter reportedly pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud plus one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud.
The pair reportedly owned seven businesses that claimed to provide home healthcare services to Medicare beneficiaries: MA Home Health Agency, Golden Home Health Care, Metro Dade Home Health, Nova Home Health Care, Homestead Home Health Care, Fintech Home Health and Inar Home Care Service.
The businesses were set up with others posing as owners, except Inar. From 2011 until June 2016, the suspects allegedly built a customer base from sending “patient recruiters” — who were either bribed or given kickbacks — to sell healthcare packages to Medicare beneficiaries, including some who didn’t qualify for home healthcare. Doctors and other medical professionals reportedly got payoffs in a scheme to buy prescriptions for home healthcare and patient referrals. All totaled, the Medicare money paid to Gonzalez and Alfaro for those patients was about $20 million.
In addition, mother and daughter are both accused of violating the court system by trying to tamper with prosecution witnesses. The pair allegedly tried to convince co-conspirator Luis Luzardo to say money they gave him during the scheme was a loan, not a payment.
They will be sentenced in May for these allegations.
Gonzalez, the mother, is already is serving a three-year sentence after pleading guilty to smuggling charges. Although both mother and daughter are believed to have been involved, the mother took the rap for hiding $2.4 million cash in diapers and baby towels in luggage when returning to Miami from the Dominican Republic.
According to the Miami Herald, prosecutors believe the pair had been planning to flee the country and flee prosecution.