WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 Miami resident Ingrid Mazorra pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Miami to participating in a conspiracy to defraud the Medicare program, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Terrence I. Berg of the Eastern District of Michigan; Andrew G. Arena, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI's Detroit Field Office; and Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).
Mazorra, 35, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud before U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro. In pleading guilty, Mazorra admitted that in approximately September 2006, she agreed to help operate a fraudulent infusion and injection clinic, called Xpress Center Inc., in Livonia, Mich. Mazorra admitted that while the clinic was open, the clinic routinely billed the Medicare program for services that were medically unnecessary or were never provided. Mazorra admitted that she and her co-conspirators at the clinic had purchased only a small fraction of the medications that the clinic billed the Medicare program for providing.
Mazorra admitted that Medicare beneficiaries were recruited to come to the clinic through the payment of kickbacks. Mazorra admitted that in exchange for those kickbacks, the Medicare beneficiaries would visit the clinic and sign documents indicating that they had received the services billed to Medicare. According to court documents, kickbacks paid to Medicare beneficiaries at the clinic were made in the form of cash and prescriptions for narcotic drugs. Mazorra also admitted that she and other co-conspirators created false patient files and other false documents to conceal the fraud at Xpress Center, and to make it appear that Xpress Center was a legitimate medical clinic.
Mazorra admitted that between approximately September 2006 and March 2007, she and her co-conspirators at Xpress Center caused the submission of approximately $2.3 million in false and fraudulent claims to the Medicare program for services purportedly provided at Xpress Center. Medicare paid approximately $1.8 million on those claims.
Mazorra was originally charged in the Eastern District of Michigan, but after her arrest in Miami, she consented to have her case transferred to the Southern District of Florida for her plea and sentence. At her sentencing, which is scheduled for March 26, 2010, Mazorra faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the Detroit offices of the FBI and HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys John K. Neal and Benjamin D. Singer of the Criminal Division's Fraud Section and by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas W. Beimers of the Eastern District of Michigan. The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division's Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Since the inception of Strike Force operations in March 2007 - Miami (Phase One), Los Angeles (Phase Two), Detroit (Phase Three), Houston (Phase Four), Brooklyn (Phase Five), Tampa (Phase Six) and Baton Rouge (Phase Seven) - the Strike Force has obtained indictments of more than 460 individuals and organizations that collectively have billed the Medicare program for more than $1 billion. In addition, HHS's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.
SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice