5 accused of $1.3M fraud at Hialeah, Minor Havana dental clinics

HIALEAH, Fla. – Five individuals used by a dental administration company were arrested Tuesday in link to a $1.3 million insurance coverage fraud plan involving two South Florida dental clinics, in accordance to arrest reviews.

Investigators with the Florida Office of Monetary Services’ Bureau of Insurance policies Fraud dubbed the circumstance the “Tooth Fairy Heist.”

Authorities arrested two gals and a few guys on several felony prices:

  • Mercedes Linares, 53, of Hollywood

  • Christi Olson, 47, of Hialeah

  • Leonardo Ramos, 22, of Hialeah Gardens

  • Leonel Ravelo, 34, of Hialeah

  • Ryon Vazquez, 33, of Miami

According to arrest stories, in 2020, a spouse-and-wife pair sold shares in their dental exercise, with workplaces positioned in Hialeah and Miami’s Very little Havana community, to the administration company, with the intention of having the administration business cope with administrative responsibilities.

Nonetheless, the two began to have conflicts with the company’s pursuits and had been ultimately fired from what utilized to be their individual observe in April and Could 2022, in accordance to the report.

The pair had lifted objections to the company’s non-dentists “trying to impose and implement operations” that violated Florida statues similar to proprietorship of clinics by non-dentists, the studies point out.

In accordance to the report, the fraud began just after the pair’s firing.

Authorities mentioned the business ongoing to bill insurance policies providers for processes beneath a single of the dentists’ Nationwide Service provider Identifier, recognized as NPI for brief, regardless of the fact that she was no more time with the exercise and had, in fact, been trespassed from it.

According to the arrest report, the dentist’s NPI was utilised due to the fact the new operator of the exercise, even though getting a dentist, was not credentialed by insurers and did not have an NPI himself.

That lasted from May perhaps to September, until the clinic management commenced the suitable enrollment method, it states.

It’s not very clear if that dentist will experience any prices.

According to the report, the suspects also requested 6 associate dentists to “accept a new billing process” in which methods accomplished by dental assistants “would be signed off by the current credentialed medical practitioners even nevertheless they did not administer or supervise the solutions.”

The dentists “disagreed with this approach because they weren’t supervising, would not be compensated and did not want their licenses used without their direct administration,” the report states.

A single dentist did allow billing for expert services “she did not carry out but only for her and the doctors she agreed to supervise.” It is not clear if she will experience fees.

Authorities mentioned Ravelo directed the Very little Havana exercise business office manager to use a thing termed a “behavior management code” on all small children beneath age 6 “without the expertise and consent of the doctors to improve creation and satisfy their monetary objectives for a financial bonus.”

The six dentists found out this “scheme to defraud by incorporating statements for providers not rendered” and stopped the billing, the report states, and carried out an audit of all “behavior management code” claims.

Their audit exposed 50 fraudulent claims — four of which had now been submitted, totaling $1,800 in fraud.

“Material evidence, sworn recorded witness statements and fiscal information will exhibit that Olson, Vazquez and Ravelo had the knowledge and colluded to suitable and cover this up after getting confronted by (the dentists),” investigators wrote in the report.

The overall quantity of fraud concerned was $1,350,246.35, authorities claimed.

Expenses for the quintet involve submitting false insurance plan statements, arranged plan to defraud and legal use of individual identification information and facts.

Neighborhood 10 Information contacted spokespeople for the Florida Office of Money Providers for more details on the potential for more arrests in its investigation and hadn’t acquired a response as of Wednesday.

The organization at the center of the allegations, AC Pediatrics Dentistry & Orthodontics, launched a statement to Neighborhood 10 News denying the allegations and blaming “disgruntled former staff members.”

“AC Pediatrics Dentistry & Orthodontics is included in an ongoing legal dispute with the former founders of the corporation, and in a associated investigation from the Florida Bureau of Investigation. Regardless of maintaining full innocence from any felony wrongdoing, and actively cooperating in the approach, we lament modern developments which led to the arrest of 5 firm executives. Sadly, the origin of this ugly debacle traces to disgruntled previous employees who ended up removed from their roles in 2022, and are now fixated on tearing down the company they labored for, no matter of the human toll.

The accusations pertain to administrative technicalities from which we experienced zero monetary advantage, and which harmed absolutely no 1. As these, AC Pediatrics carries on to actively do the job with the Condition to show organization and individuals’ innocence.

We run with the utmost integrity, and acquire these rates extremely significantly. We strongly refute the accusations becoming leveled versus us and search ahead to a complete exoneration as the authorized procedure unfolds.”

Company assertion

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