Two Florida Men Charged With Multi-Million Dollar Health Care Schemes | USAO-NJ
NEWARK, NJ – Two Florida men have been charged with their roles in sustainable medical equipment and compound drug programs involving bribes and fraud, Acting Prosecutor Rachael A. Honig said.
Thomas Farese, 79, of Delray Beach, Fla., And Domenic J. Gatto Jr., 47, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Are charged in indictment of 11 counts of conspiracy for the purpose of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, healthcare fraud, conspiracy to transact proceeds of crime, transactions on proceeds of crime and conspiracy to violate federal anti-recoil law.
According to the documents filed in the case and the statements made to the court:
Farese and Gatto played a key role in a scheme to defraud healthcare benefit programs by offering, paying, soliciting and receiving bribes in exchange for orders from doctors for durable medical equipment. (DME) regardless of medical necessity, namely orthopedic orthotics. Farese, Gatto, and their conspirators had financial interests in several DME companies that paid bribes to suppliers of DME orders, in exchange for DME orders. The providers, in turn, have used telemedicine companies to secure orders for EMRs regardless of medical necessity. The DME companies owned by Farese and Gatto subsequently fraudulently billed Medicare, TRICARE, CHAMPVA, and other health care benefit programs for DME orders. The defendants hid their ownership of the DME companies using straw owners who were falsely reported to Medicare as the owners of the companies. Gatto also negotiated a bribe relationship in which he received an illegal bribe whenever specific DME vendors provided DME orders to DME companies controlled by him and his. conspirators. Gatto and his conspirators then laundered the proceeds of the scheme through several layers of bank accounts under their control.
Gatto and his conspirators have entered into a related bribe program involving prescriptions for compound drugs. They agreed that suppliers of compound drugs would receive bribes in exchange for submitting orders to pharmacies with which Gatto and his conspirators had a relationship. Gatto also agreed with others that he would receive bribes from these pharmacies for compound drug orders submitted by these suppliers. The compounding pharmacies then billed Medicare for the compound drug orders.
The defendants caused Medicare, TRICARE and CHAMPVA losses of approximately $ 25 million.
The charge of conspiring to commit wire fraud carries a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The charges of Conspiracy to Commit Healthcare Fraud, Healthcare Fraud, Conspiracy to Deal with Proceeds of Crime and Deal with Proceeds of Crime are each carry a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in prison per count. The charge of conspiring to violate federal anti-recoil law carries a potential maximum penalty of five years in prison. The maximum fine for each count is $ 250,000, or double the gross profit or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greater.
Acting US Attorney Honig credited the FBI Special Agents, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark; the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Scott J. Lampert; the US Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigation Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Hegarty; and the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christopher F. Algieri, with ongoing investigations.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Prosecutors Sean M. Sherman of the Opioid Abuse Prevention and Suppression Unit in Newark, Ryan L. O’Neill of the Health Care Fraud Control Unit in Newark, senior counsel Barbara Ward of Asset Recovery & Money Laundering in Newark, and prosecutor Darren Halverson of the Healthcare Fraud Unit of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are only charges, and the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty.