Federal health care fraud crackdown snags several Florida defendants

In a significant nationwide crackdown on health care fraud, the U.S. Department of Justice has charged 193 individuals, including several Florida residents, for various scams targeting the elderly and disabled. This announcement was made by Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday. The accused include doctors, nurse practitioners, and others across the nation, with a notable $900 million scheme in Arizona targeting dying patients being one of the major cases.

In Florida, Eva LeBeau, 65, of Clearwater, and Lori Lebrecht, 60, of Largo, are among the accused. They are charged with conspiracy to defraud through an illegal kickback scheme involving Prestigious Senior Home Health Care of Pinellas County. LeBeau owned the company, and Lebrecht was the director of nursing. The pair is accused of submitting false and fraudulent claims totaling over $2 million for home health services.

Eric Brewer, a 28-year-old intensive care nurse from Lakeland, is also among the Florida defendants. Brewer is accused of stealing fentanyl infusion bags and in some cases siphoning the fentanyl out of patient IV bags at hospitals in Tampa.

Lisa Williams, 56, of Lithia, was charged with tampering with fentanyl infusion bags at a hospital. Ma Gracia Cadet, 53, of Kissimmee, and Marques Elijah Green, 29, of Windermere, were charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud worth millions of dollars.

Erin Kim, a 54-year-old nurse practitioner from Orlando, is accused of conspiring with others at Done, a California-based digital health care company, to illegally supply Adderall to patients without a medical need for it. Prosecutors claim Kim prescribed 1.5 million pills and was paid $800,000.

Robert Desselle, 46, of Sarasota, was charged with conspiracy to defraud in connection with an alleged scheme to pay illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters in exchange for referring Medicare beneficiaries for cancer genetic testing that was not medically necessary. Lawrence Waldman, 57, of Miami, is accused of conspiracy to defraud in connection with a scheme to submit false claims to Medicare.

In total, 193 people were charged in separate cases brought over about two weeks in the nationwide health care fraud sweep. Authorities seized more than $230 million in cash, luxury cars, and other assets. The Justice Department carries out these sweeping health care fraud efforts periodically with the goal of helping to deter other potential wrongdoers. This report is based on information from WGCU in Fort Myers and the Associated Press.

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