Attorney General Pam Bondi's Office of Statewide Prosecution and the Miami-Dade Police Department announced more than 30 arrests in connection to a long-term heath care fraud and money laundering investigation.
Officials said the arrests include individuals from three separate organizations all using pharmacies set up for the purpose of defrauding the Medicare Part D Program.
"This was a complex scheme designed to defraud the Medicare program, hide the evidence and conceal the identities of those involved," Attorney General Bondi said.
Members of the criminal enterprises include check-cashers, pharmacists, pharmacy managers, pharmacy technicians and straw owners of the various pharmacies, officials said. A straw owner is an owner on paper whose identity is substituted for a true owner.
These organizations allegedly employed straw owners to establish numerous pharmacies and apply for pharmacy licenses and the Drug Enforcement Administration credentials.
According to investigators, defendants purchased Medicare beneficiary numbers and physician prescriber identification numbers through illegitimate sources in order to submit thousands of fraudulent claims to Medicare for prescription medications never provided.
Once Medicare submitted the reimbursements to the pharmacy, defendants are accused of laundering the funds in an attempt to mask the source of the money and elude administrative and law enforcement investigations.
Investigators said the defendants moved funds between accounts without legitimate business purposes and/or cashed reimbursement checks at check-cashing stores.
The defendants face charges ranging from racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, money laundering, organized scheme to defraud, filing a fraudulent insurance claim and criminal use of personal identification.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and MDPD assisted in the investigations.