FL: Principal in $28.3 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison

This case involved medical identity theft.

A Florida owner and operator of multiple physical therapy rehabilitation facilities was sentenced in federal court in Tampa this week to serve 11 years in prison for his role in organizing a $28.3 million Medicare fraud scheme involving physical and occupational therapy services.

Luis Duluc, 54, of Tampa, pleaded guilty on Feb. 3, 2014, to conspiracy to commit health care fraud as well as making a false statement relating to health care matters.  In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew of the Middle District of Florida ordered Duluc to pay $14,424,856 in restitution.

According to Duluc’s admissions in connection with his guilty plea, he and his co-conspirators used various physical therapy clinics and other businesses throughout Florida to submit approximately $28,347,065 in fraudulent reimbursement claims to Medicare between 2005 and 2009.  Medicare paid approximately $14,424,865 on those claims.

Duluc was chairman and president of a Delaware holding company known as Ulysses Acquisitions Inc., which was used to purchase comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facilities and outpatient physical therapy providers, including West Coast Rehab Inc. in Fort Myers, Florida; Rehab Dynamics Inc. in Venice, Florida; Polk Rehabilitation Inc. in Lake Wales, Florida; and Renew Therapy Center of Port St. Lucie LLC in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  This gave Duluc and his co-conspirators control of those clinics’ Medicare provider numbers, which allowed them to bill Medicare for services.

Duluc admitted that he and his co-conspirators paid kickbacks to obtain, and stole, the personal identifying information of Medicare beneficiaries, and that he and his co-conspirators also obtained unique identifying information of physicians.  They then used this information to create and submit false claims to Medicare through the clinics owned by Ulysses Acquisitions.  These claims sought reimbursement for therapy services that were not legitimately prescribed and not actually provided.  Duluc admitted that he and his co-conspirators created and used false and forged patient records in an effort to conceal the fact that services had not actually been provided.

Duluc also admitted that he developed and marketed the “80/20 deal.”  In these deals, Duluc and his co-conspirators submitted false reimbursement claims to Medicare on behalf of Miami-based therapy clinics, such as Hallandale Rehabilitation Inc., Tropical Physical Therapy Corporation, American Wellness Centers Inc. and West Regional Center Inc.  Duluc and co-conspirators retained approximately 20 percent of the money Medicare paid on these claims and paid the other 80 percent to the co-conspirator clinic owners.

When Duluc and his co-conspirators were done using the clinics they acquired through Ulysses Acquisitions, they engaged in sham sales to nominee or straw owners, all of whom were recent immigrants to the United States with no background or experience in the health care industry.  Duluc admitted that he did this in an effort to disassociate from the fraudulent operations of the rehabilitation facilities.

SOURCE: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida

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