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Published On: Mon, May 13th, 2019

South Florida Patient Recruiter, Yamilet Diaz Sentenced for role in $1.6 Million Kickback Scheme

A South Florida patient recruiter was sentenced to 87 months in prison today for her role in a scheme involving approximately $1.6 million in Medicare claims for home health care services that were procured through the payment of kickbacks.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Shimon R. Richmond of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement.

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Yamilet Diaz, 50, of Hialeah, Florida, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn of the Southern District of Florida.  After a four-day trial in February 2019, which Judge Cohn presided over, Diaz was convicted of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to receive health care kickbacks and four counts of receiving health care kickbacks.

According to evidence presented at trial and at sentencing, from approximately February 2012 to August 2013, Diaz received kickbacks in return for referring Medicare beneficiaries to five South Florida home health agencies to serve as patients.  The evidence established that Diaz and her co-conspirators caused Medicare to make over $1.6 million in payments to the home health agencies based upon claims for home health services submitted on behalf of the beneficiaries recruited by Diaz.  The evidence further established that Diaz personally benefited from the fraud and received at least $710,000.

This case was investigated by the FBI with support from HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.  The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Patrick Mott, John (Fritz) Scanlon and Timothy Loper of the Fraud Section.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Wright of the District of Massachusetts, formerly with the Fraud Section, previously worked on the case.

The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.  Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 14 strike forces operating in 23 districts, has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

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