Twenty-five people were charged in Miami federal court for alleged schemes to defraud Medicare. The three cases totaled about $26 million in false claims through the Medicare Part D program.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer said the April 28 charges include conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, health care fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and paying and receiving healthcare kickbacks.

In the first indictment, 18 people were charged with filing false claims through eight separate pharmacies. Pedro Torres, 43, of North Bay Village and Antonio Hevia, 53, of Miami are accused of recruiting people to be owners of the pharmacies. Torres and Hevia then allegedly instructed the pharmacy staffs to submit fraudulent claims for $16.7 million for prescription drugs that were not medically necessary and not provided to the Medicare Part D beneficiaries.

In the second indictment, Ronald Dias, 28, of Miami used eight pharmacies that he owned and worked with two other Miami residents to defraud the Medicare Part D program of $10.4 million in fraudulently obtained claims. The indictment said the drugs were neither medically necessary nor provided to Medicare beneficiaries.

In the third indictment, four Miami residents are accused of receiving kickbacks and bribes to recruit Medicare beneficiaries to obtain prescriptions for drugs to be used through the OMG Pharmacy Discount with false claims filed to the Medicare Part D Program.

“Those who commit Medicare fraud through the filing of false claims, payment or receipt of kickbacks, or fraudulent medical practices jeopardize the integrity of the government benefit programs that countless citizens rely on for their well-being,” Ferrer said in a statement.

The various charges carry potential sentences each ranging from five years to 20 years in prison.

Since March 2007 in the Southern District of Florida, nearly 900 individuals have been charged in alleged frauds netting $2.5 billion through Medicare billings.

Part D prescription medicine coverage is the fastest-growing area of the Medicare program. The federal government estimates as much as $10 billion of last year’s $120 billion in Medicare Part D spending may be fraudulent.

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