A Miami physician’s six-year, $38 million health care fraud scheme paid for luxury cars and beachfront condominiums, prosecutors say.
But 63-year-old Armando Valdes won’t be doing any driving where he’ll be living next—and the accommodations are sure to be a step down.
That’s because on Tuesday, a judge sentenced him to five years in federal prison after a guilty plea earlier this year.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Valdes owned and operated Miami-based Gasiel Medical Services from Feb. 2015 through July 2021 and submitted approximately $38 million in fraudulent claims to United Healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Those claims were for infusions of the drug Infliximab, better known by the brand name Remicade.
The drug is used to treat a number of illnesses, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and plaque psoriasis.
It’s one of the most expensive drugs on the market—a single dose can retail for nearly $10,000.
But despite submitting $38 million in insurance claims, Valdes admitted he never provided so much as a single dose of the medication to a patient.
“Valdes attempted to conceal his involvement in this fraud scheme by distancing himself on paper from the medical clinic,” the DOJ said in a news release. “For example, Valdes employed a 91-year-old physician at Gasiel Medical Services who rarely treated patients and never prescribed Infliximab, but who Valdes listed as the rendering provider for all $38 million of the fraudulently billed Infliximab infusions.”
Prosecutors said he also paid another individual to act as Gasiel Medical Services’ “nominee owner.”
“This other individual, and not Valdes, was listed as the president and registered agent of the clinic in corporate records and other official documents,” they said.
Valdes’ ill-gotten gains included four real estate properties, including a beachfront condominium in Pompano Beach, as well as numerous luxury vehicles, including a Cadillac Escalade and a Tesla Model S, prosecutors said.
Federal prosecutors are handling asset forfeiture, according to the DOJ. (Source: https://www-local10-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.local10.com/news/local/2022/08/03/feds-miami-docs-38m-health-care-fraud-scheme-paid-for-condos-cars-now-hes-going-to-prison/?outputType=amp)