A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced a mother and her son to prison for participating in a $9.5 million pharmacy fraud scheme, involving kickbacks.
Niurka Fernandez, 54, and Roberto Alvarez, 26, each plead guilty on Aug. 31 to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud against Medicare. Both are from Miami.
U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno also ordered Fernandez to pay $9.5 million in restitution and Alvarez t to pay $1.5 million, officials said.
As part of her guilty plea, Fernandez admitted that she co-owned and operated several pharmacies in the Miami area, including Calan Pharmacy & Discount Service LLC (Calan Pharmacy) and Bertyann Corp., doing business as Best Pharmacy.
Fernandez was an organizer and leader of the Medicare scheme that paid Medicare beneficiaries and patient recruiters for prescriptions that were medically unnecessary, according to the plea agreement.
Fernandez admitted that she had co-conspirators at Calan Pharmacy and Best Pharmacy write and cash checks as part of a kickback scheme. Fernandez is also linked to several other Medicare fraud schemes.
As part of his guilty plea, Alvarez admitted that he wrote checks from Best Pharmacy to money launderers to get cash and pay the kickbacks to the Medicare beneficiaries.
In her plea documents, Fernandez stated she caused at least $9.5 million in losses to Medicare. Alvarez admitted to at least $1.5 million in losses. In total, Medicare paid at least $9.5 million in overpayments.