Photo: Latino Involved in Medicare Fraud
A Miami-area nurse pleaded guilty today for his participation in a $25 million home health Medicare fraud scheme, the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today.
Jorge Pineiro, 42, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard in Miami to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Pineiro was originally charged in a February 2011 indictment.
According to plea documents, Pineiro was a registered nurse two Miami home health care agencies that purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries. Pineiro and his co-conspirators operated ABC and Florida Home Health for the purpose of billing Medicare for expensive services that were not medically necessary and/or were never provided. The medically unnecessary services were prescribed by doctors, including, but not limited to, Pineiro’s co-defendant, Dr. Jose Nunez.
According to court documents, beginning in approximately June 2008, and continuing until approximately March 2009, Pineiro and his co-defendant nurses falsified patient files for Medicare beneficiaries to make it appear that they qualified for home health care and therapy services. Pineiro knew that the beneficiaries did not actually qualify for and did not receive the services.
Pineiro admitted that he knew these files were falsified so that Medicare could be billed for medically unnecessary therapy and home health-related services.
Pineiro also recruited Medicare beneficiaries who allowed Florida Home Health to bill Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary and/or never provided. Pineiro solicited and received kickbacks and bribes from the owners and operators of Florida Home Health in return for allowing the agency to bill Medicare on behalf of the patients he recruited.
Eighteen co-defendants, including Nunez, Licet Diaz and Lisandra Alonso have pleaded guilty for their roles in the fraud scheme. Two remaining defendants, Dr. Francisco Gonzalez and Odalys Alvarez-Medina, are scheduled for trial on Feb. 14, 2012. An indictment is merely a charge, and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.