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Two Cape men guilty in health care fraud conspiracy

By Staff | Dec 15, 2012

Two Cape Coral men were found guilty this week in federal court for their role in a health care fraud conspiracy that resulted in multiple arrests.

Francisco Huici Fernandez, 40, and Adrian Perez, 22, were found guilty on Tuesday of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and mail fraud, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida.

Perez was also convicted of two additional counts of mail fraud and five counts of health care fraud.

The maximum penalty for the conspiracy and mail fraud counts is 20 years in federal prison, and the maximum penalty for health care fraud is 10 years.

Attorney Roy Foxall is representing Fernandez.

“There’s still another outstanding case regarding another clinic, so I can’t really say anything at this time,” he said Thursday.

Foxall added that the other case may or may not go to trial.

Attorney David Joffe is representing Perez.

He also declined to comment on the case Thursday.

Evidence presented at the trial showed that C & A Family Rehab Center, located in the Cape, operated as a chiropractic clinic. According to officials, Fernandez referred two participants from a staged crash, who were really two agents working undercover, to the center for medical treatment.

As part of the conspiracy, the referred patients were to be paid for treatment that they received at the center, officials reported. Perez was responsible for billing at C & A and falsely billed an insurance company for treatment that the undercover agents never received at the center.

Fernandez and Perez are scheduled to be sentenced on March 11.

Assistant U.S. attorney Jesus Casas is prosecuting the case.

The investigation of C & A was associated with Operation Whiplash, which was a joint law enforcement operation that spanned 13 months. It targeted staged crash participants and chiropractic clinics involved in the fraudulent billing of insurance companies for medical treatment that was not given.

Multiple people were federally indicted in the operating, including:

* Sonia Arroyo, of Cape Coral

* Joanna Capote, of Cape Coral

* Victor Caballero Duarte, of Cape Coral

* Indra Lemus Castellanos, of Cape Coral

* Ernesto Diaz, of Cape Coral

* Jeanine Lastres Huici, of Cape Coral

* Karen Carmona Jackson, of Lake Wales

* Stephen M. Lovell, of Windermere

* Abel De Jesus Perez, of Cape Coral

* Marylda Santana, of Cape Coral

Authorities estimated that the clinics used in the schemes may have been responsible for up to $22.5 million of insurance fraud per year.

During the course of the investigation, law enforcement observed and documented more than 200 acts of mail and health care fraud.