Feds Track Down Accused Fraudsters in $2.4 Million Home Health Scheme

Three individuals have been arrested for more than $2.4 million in Medicare and Medicaid fraud involving home health-related kickbacks and bribes, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. One of the accused was detained in Colombia, the federal authorities announced.

The defendants — Daniel Ronchetta, M.D., chiropractic physician assistant John Crowe and patient recruiter Frank Barrios — allegedly defrauded the government by paying and receiving kickbacks and bribes in return for creating and providing false and fraudulent home health prescriptions and plans of care to patient recruiters and causing the submission of false and fraudulent claims.

“This was a brazen attempt to get away with stealing millions of taxpayer dollars,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi, one of the officials involved in announcing the arrest. 

Last month, a federal grand jury in Miami returned a four-count indictment charging Ronchetta, Crowe and Barrios for Medicare and Medicaid fraud. The defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, substantive counts of health care fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States and pay and receive health care kickbacks.

“Health care providers that offer or accept kickbacks in exchange for referrals undermine both the public’s trust in medical institutions and the financial integrity of federal health care programs,” said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson. “Our agency will continue to protect both patients and taxpayers by holding those who engage in fraudulent kickback schemes accountable.”

Since its inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,650 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $4.5 billion. In addition, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Written by Emily Study