Diapers and baby wipes are expensive, but these common baby items were valued at $2.4 million after two women stuffed them with cash as part of a larger scheme to defraud Medicare to the tune of $20 million.
Mildrey Gonzalez, 62, and her daughter, 40-year-old Milka Alfaro — both U.S. citizens — were returning to Miami from the Dominican Republic back in early June of 2016 when customs officials discovered the cash that was hidden in their luggage.
The two have pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, according to an article in the Miami Herald on Monday.
Mildrey Gonzalez took most of the heat and is now facing one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and one count of healthcare fraud. Her daughter pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and one count of wire fraud.
A known felon, the Herald reported that “Gonzalez is already serving a three-year sentence handed down in February after pleading guilty to bulk cash smuggling in or out of the United States. Though both women’s luggage contained the cash on Jun. 4, the mother of the pair took the sole rap.”
The fraudsters claimed to provide home healthcare services to Medicare beneficiaries through seven businesses: 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, according to court documents. They also paid others to “front” as owners.
“From 2011 until June 2016, the pair built a faux customer base by bribing and paying kickbacks to ‘patient recruiters’ to refer Medicare beneficiaries to them, including some that didn’t qualify for home healthcare. Payoffs to doctors and other medical professionals bought prescriptions for home healthcare and patient referrals. All Medicare money paid to Gonzalez and Alfaro for those patients, about $20 million, count as fraudulent,” according to the report.
In court, Alfaro admitted that she directed the fake owners to “create corporations into which she and her mother could pour the Medicare money.”
The women also attempted to tamper with prosecution witnesses, “specifically trying to convince co-conspirator Luis Luzardo to say money they gave him during the scheme was a loan instead of payment.”
Both women will be sentenced in May.
H/T: Miami Herald
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