Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID); and Jeff Atwater, Chief Financial Officer, Florida Department of Financial Services, announced that 11 defendants were charged in two separate indictments and an information for their roles in a staged accident fraud scheme. In total, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged 26 defendants in less than 12 months for their involvement in insurance fraud schemes.
In two separate indictments, defendants Obelio Rodriguez, a/k/a Ovy, 43, formerly of West Palm Beach; Maria Molina, a/k/a Cary, 41, of West Palm Beach; Yuliet Tapanes, 25, of West Palm Beach; Moises Madrid, 40, of Orlando, a licensed massage therapist; Dagoberto Milian Lopez, a/k/a Lavadora, 56, formerly of West Palm Beach; Amaurys Hernandez, a/k/a El Manco, 40, of West Palm Beach; Gilda Garcia, a/k/a Hilda, a/k/a La Que Carta, 49, of Greenacres; Javier De La Caridad Troncoso, 45, of Lake Worth; Ana Ovando, 42, of Lake Worth; and Janice Velez, 39, of West Palm Beach, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349. Defendant Jennifer Adams, 38, of Boca Raton, a licensed chiropractic physician, was charged in an information with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.
According to court documents, under Florida’s “No Fault” insurance law, insurers must provide Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage of $10,000 per person. The defendants allegedly unlawfully enriched themselves by submitting fraudulent PIP claims for chiropractic and massage therapy treatments for individuals who had participated in staged automobile accidents. The defendants recruited individuals to participate in staged automobile accidents and instructed participants on how to conduct accidents; what to tell responding police officers, insurance company representatives, and independent medical examination (IME) physicians; how to collect police reports; and what clinic to go to for treatment, even though the participants did not need treatment.
Court documents also state that the defendants prepared fraudulent insurance documentation and fraudulent PIP Automobile Insurance Claims for chiropractic and massage therapy treatments for the staged accident participants, claiming that that the treatments were medically necessary and that the patients had received the treatments when, in fact, the treatments were not necessary and usually not received. The defendants and their co-conspirators submitted these claims to various automobile insurance companies via the United States mail.
Defendant Adams served as named owner of the chiropractic clinics, although the other defendants would maintain financial control of the businesses. The clinics involved in the scheme included:
■OVY Rehabilitation Medical Center, located on Congress Avenue, West Palm Beach, Florida;
■HHR Rehab Medical Center, located on Congress Avenue, West Palm Beach, Florida;
■Chiropractic Center of Palm Beach Corp, located on Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach, Florida;
■Chiropractic Office of South Florida, located on Congress Avenue, in Palm Springs, Florida;
■Florida Mango Massage Therapy Center, located on Forest Hill Boulevard, Lake Clarke Shores, Florida;
■New York Medical and Rehab Center, located on Forest Hill Boulevard, Lake Clarke Shores, Florida; and
■KCC, located in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Defendant Rodriguez is currently at large and is considered a fugitive. Defendant Molina is scheduled for a pre-trial detention hearing and arraignment on Tuesday, June 19, 2012, at 1:00 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dave Lee Brannon. Defendant Tapanes was released on a $100,000 bond today and is scheduled to be arraigned at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, July 2, 2012. Defendant Madrid was released on a $50,000 bond and arraigned on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. Defendant Lopez is currently at large and is considered a fugitive. Defendant Hernandez is scheduled for a pre-trial detention hearing and arraignment at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Defendant Garcia had her initial appearances today before Magistrate Judge Brannon and was released on a $100,000 bond. Defendant Troncoso is scheduled for a bond hearing and arraignment at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 20, 2012. Defendant Ana Ovando is scheduled for a pretrial detention hearing and arraignment at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 20, 2012. Defendant Velez was arraigned today before Magistrate Judge Brannon, pled not guilty, and was released on a $100,000 bond. Defendant Adams had her initial appearance today and was released on a $50,000 bond. She is scheduled to be arraigned at 10:00 a.m. on July 2, 2012. No trial date has been set for any of the defendants.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, IRS-CID, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Florida Department of Financial Services, and Florida Department of Insurance Fraud, and he issued a special thanks to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) for its assistance in this investigation. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Marie Villafaña.