BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Source: USDOJ Verbatim Advisory) — Ten Florida residents and one Boston resident have been charged in the Southern District of Florida for their roles in a massive nationwide prescription medication telemedicine scheme. The announcements are part of a federal law enforcement effort to crack down on health care fraud nationwide.
Telemedicine is the use of telecommunications technology to provide health care services remotely. The eleven defendants charged in this telemedicine scheme are:
- Mark L. Vollaro, 38, of Boynton Beach, Florida,
- Anthony J. Loveland, 43, of Boynton Beach, Florida,
- Luis Garcia, 30, of Boca Raton, Florida,
- Robert C. Clark, 54, of Boca Raton, Florida,
- Jason T. Faley, 39, of Deerfield Beach, Florida,
- Joseph A. Cavallo, 42, of Cooper City, Florida,
- James D. Engimann, 37, of Lake Worth, Florida,
- Benjamin C. Heath, 37, of Boca Raton, Florida,
- Antonio J. Gousgounis, 34, of Boca Raton, Florida,
- Christopher Margait, 43, of West Palm Beach, Florida, and
- Margaret Chiasson, 32, of Boston, Massachusetts (formerly of Pompano Beach).
The information charges defendants with unjustly enriching themselves by recruiting patients who were insured by various health benefit insurance plans, including Tricare, and causing the submission of fraudulent and invalid prescriptions for compounded medications that were not medically needed by the recruited individuals. According to the information, the defendants’ activities caused the various health benefit insurance plans to reimburse compounding pharmacies for the fraudulent compounded medication prescriptions, which were much more expensive than mass-produced prescription medications. Telemedicine consultations were used in the scheme.
Several of the defendants are also charged with money laundering crimes, in connection with their activities concerning the proceeds from the scheme.
All defendants had their initial appearances today in federal court. The 10 defendants who live in Florida appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Patrick Hunt, who sits in Fort Lauderdale. The defendant who lives in Boston appeared before Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler in the District of Massachusetts.
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Cynthia A. Bruce, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General, Southeast Field Office, made the announcement.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia R. Wood is prosecuting this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney William Zloch is handling asset forfeiture.
This announcement is part of a nationwide federal law enforcement effort to combat telemedicine and prescription fraud. As part of this effort, the Department of Justice announced last week the largest amount of alleged fraud loss ever charged – $4.5 billion in allegedly false and fraudulent claims submitted by more than 86 criminal defendants in 19 judicial districts around the country – related to nationwide schemes involving telemedicine. See DOJ press release.
The charges and allegations contained in an information are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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