Miami couple sentenced for Medicare fraud

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A Miami man and his wife were sentenced Wednesday in the Southern District of Georgia for fraudulent Medicare billing, which was uncovered by Operation Redex Infuscam, a joint investigation by the FBI and the Office of Health and Human Services.

Alfredo Rasco, 52, of Miami, was sentenced to 133 months in prison for his role in defrauding Medicare of an estimated $4 million. Rasco's wife, Niurka Rasco, 50, was also sentenced on Wednesday to three years probation.

They pleaded guilty at their hearings. From December 2005 to March 2008, Alfredo Rasco, Niurka Rasco and others, bribed Medicare beneficiaries who had HIV or AIDS with promises of free food, transportation, and gift cards, to get the patients to come to United Therapy, a healthcare clinic in downtown Savannah.

At United Therapy, Alfredo Rasco and others used the patients' Medicare information to submit $6.5 million worth of phony bills to Medicare for infusion services that were not provided to those patients, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia. The scheme resulted in an estimated $4 million stolen from Medicare through these phony claims.

Alfredo Rasco was associated with other schemes to defraud Medicare in and around Miami, and that he opened up the fraudulent clinic in Savannah to escape increased law enforcement scrutiny of health care fraud in Miami, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Alfredo Rasco also had prior federal felony convictions for assaulting a federal law enforcement officer and narcotics trafficking.

Alfredo Rasco faced a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison for the conspiracy to commit health care fraud conviction; two years imprisonment for his conviction of aggravated identity theft; consecutive to his sentence on conspiracy to commit health care fraud; fines up to $500,000; and three years of supervised release.

Niurka Rasco faced a maximum statutory penalty of up to six months in prison; a fine up to $2,000; and one year of supervised release.

The Rascos were ordered by the court to forfeit $1.3 million in U.S. currency and a 42' yacht known as the "Thank You, God," that were seized by investigators during the investigation of this case. Government agents recovered an estimated $2 million of the $4 million stolen from Medicare.

"Alfredo Rasco and his cohorts stole millions of taxpayer dollars by defrauding Medicare and preying upon vulnerable citizens suffering from life-threatening illnesses. In hatching his scheme, Alfredo Rasco made the mistake of thinking he could evade law enforcement by fleeing Miami and committing his fraud in the Southern District of Georgia. He will now get to spend more than a decade in prison reflecting on that mistake. The stern sentence imposed upon him should serve as a powerful warning to others intent on stealing from taxpayers in this District – this Office, and our law enforcement partners, will investigate and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law," said U.S. Attorney Edward J. Tarver in a statement.

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