MIAMI (CBS4) – Medicare fraud spilled over into the heart of Miami-Dade County’s government center Wednesday morning.
Residents going to visit their county commissioner or the mayor likely witnessed a surprising site: Federal Drug Enforcement Agency and Health and Human Service agents raiding a pharmacy located at the Stephen P. Clarke government center in downtown Miami.
It was the culmination of a large, two state 18 month long Medicare fraud sting that also involved Florida Department of Health agents.
Click Here to read the indictment.
Agents from DEA along with agents from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General’s Office of Investigations interviewed people and seized records at Robert’s Drug Store located in the middle of the center of Miami-Dade’s government headquarters.
Robert’s Drug Store was one of five different Miami pharmacies raided by federal agents as part of an 18 month long investigation into the sale and re-sale of prescription drugs through Medicare Part D.
At another drug store, Pharmalife, located at 801 SW 1st Street agents went in to seize records and question workers.
In all, twenty people were indictment as part of this sweep. Wednesday federal agents arrested twenty-one of those people living in places as varied as Madison in the Florida panhandle, to Fort Pierce on Florida’s Treasure Coast, to Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale as well as Miami and Pinecrest in South Florida.
Among those charged in the nine count federal indictment were a doctor, a pharmacist, two pain clinic operators as well as what federal agents call professional recruiters and professional patients.
Federal agents tell the CBS4 I-Team that recruiters would get patients to get bogus prescriptions for drugs such as Oxycodone, Oxycontin and other Schedule II drugs, after obtaining the prescriptions from one of two doctors allegedly tied up in this scheme.
Agents say the patients would then fill the prescriptions and sell the drugs back to the recruiters for a small fee and the recruiters would then sell the Oxycodone, Oxycontin and other drugs on the black market. Federal court documents allege the professional recruiters made as much as 40 million dollars in profits off the drugs originally purchased through Medicare Part D.
Those arrested as part of this sting had their initial appearance in federal court Wednesday afternoon. The others named in the indictment remain at large.
Among those arrested was prominent physician Dr. Frank Ballesteros of Miami.
Federal agents say this scheme had been running for quite some time. US District Court records allege these professional recruiters began using Medicare beneficiaries to supply black market drugs as far back as November, 2007.