A nurse practitioner based in Florida was found guilty by a federal jury in Miami for her involvement in a health-care conspiracy, which resulted in the defrauding of Medicare to the tune of over $200 million.
Elizabeth Hernandez’s Involvement Unveiled
45-year-old Elizabeth Hernandez deceitfully charged Medicare for both orthotic braces and particular genetic tests that weren’t medically mandated. This information comes straight from the Department of Justice’s official records.
Drawing a clear picture of the depth of the fraud, the Department of Justice highlighted, “In the year 2020 alone, Elizabeth Hernandez prescribed more cancer-related genetic tests for those under Medicare than any other medical professional in the entire country, surpassing even specialized oncologists and geneticists.”
The Medicare System Explained
For those unfamiliar, Medicare serves as the primary health coverage system for older citizens in the U.S.
Inside the Scandal: How it Operated Having been pronounced guilty after a trial spanning several days, details of Hernandez’s involvement started to emerge. She was an integral part of a more extensive network, where telemarketing firms would approach Medicare beneficiaries, pushing them to ask for braces and tests that weren’t needed medically.
The prosecutors shed light on the modus operandi: these telemarketing entities dispatched orders, already filled out, to Hernandez. She then countersigned them, falsely claiming she’d assessed or tended to these patients – even though, in reality, many had never even had a conversation with her.
In an astonishing revelation, it was found that Hernandez would often bill Medicare for over 24 hours’ worth of so-called “office visits” in just one day.
The Luxurious Lifestyle of Fraud: Digging deeper into the money trail, investigators discovered that Hernandez pocketed a cool $1.6 million of the stolen funds. She splurged this on high-end cars, lavish jewelry, house upgrades, and extravagant trips.
Adding another layer to this convoluted tale, Michael Stein, one of Hernandez’s partners in crime, admitted his guilt earlier in April for defrauding the U.S. government by both giving and taking kickbacks. Come June, and he received a prison sentence that will keep him behind bars for five years.
Stein wasn’t just an accomplice; he was an entrepreneur of fraud, running businesses like 1523 Holdings and Growthlogix. Their primary operation? Offering bribes and kickbacks to health professionals, urging them to recommend unnecessary genetic tests.
The judicial hammer is set to fall on Hernandez on December 14th. The stakes are high – she could be looking at a maximum of 20 years in prison for the primary charge of conspiring to commit health care fraud. There are additional charges, each with its prison term, for healthcare fraud and for presenting false statements.
Legal Representation Remains Silent Attempts to reach out to Hernandez’s legal counsel went unanswered, as they refrained from commenting immediately