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Case Number: 9:21-cr-80063-DMM
Judge: Donald M. Middlebrooks
Court: United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida (Miami-Dade County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office
Description: Miami, Florida criminal defense attorney represented defendant charged with with defrauding Medicare.
A Florida man pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Florida to a $6.9 million conspiracy to defraud Medicare by paying kickbacks and bribes to obtain doctors’ orders for medically unnecessary lab tests that were then billed to Medicare. The defendant exploited the COVID-19 pandemic by bundling COVID-19 testing with other forms of testing that patients did not need, including genetic testing and tests for rare respiratory pathogens.
According to court documents, Christopher Licata, 45, of Delray Beach, admitted that, as owner of Boca Toxicology LLC (dba Lab Dynamics), he bribed patient brokers who would refer Medicare beneficiaries and doctors’ orders authorizing medically unnecessary genetic testing to Licata’s laboratory. Licata and these patient brokers entered into sham agreements to disguise the true purpose of these payments. Once the COVID-19 pandemic began, Licata exploited patients’ fears of COVID-19 by bundling COVID-19 tests with more expensive, medically unnecessary testing, including respiratory pathogen panel testing and, at times, genetic testing for cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, obesity, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia. In total, Licata caused his laboratory to submit over $6.9 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare for these medically unnecessary tests.
Licata pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit health care fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 24 and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Omar Pérez Aybar of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) made the announcement.
The FBI’s Miami Field Office and HHS-OIG are investigating the case.
Trial Attorneys Jamie de Boer and Dermot Lynch of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.
Outcome: Defendant pleaded guilty to $6.9 million genetic testing & COVID-19 testing fraud scheme.
01/13/2022 66 PAPERLESS Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks: Change of Plea Hearing as to Christopher Licata held on 1/13/2022. Christopher Licata (1) Guilty Count 1. All parties appeared by videoconferencing. Attorney Appearance(s): Jamie de Boer, AUSA, Samuel Joseph Rabin, Jr., Esq. and Daniel S. Gelber, Esq. Sentencing is set for March 24, 2022 at 10:00 am. Total time in court: 15 minutes. Court Reporter: Gilda Pastor-Hernandez, 305-523-5118 / Gilda_Pastor-Hernandez@flsd.uscourts.gov. (gm1) (Entered: 01/13/2022)
01/13/2022 67 PLEA AGREEMENT as to Christopher Licata (gm1) (Entered: 01/13/2022)
01/13/2022 68 FACTUAL PROFFER STATEMENT as to Christopher Licata (gm1) (Entered: 01/13/2022)
01/13/2022 69 NOTICE OF SENTENCING HEARING as to Christopher Licata: Sentencing is set for 3/24/2022 at 10:00 AM in West Palm Beach Division before Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks. Prior to your courthouse visit, please click here to view our COVID-19 Rules and Procedures. (gm1) (Entered: 01/13/2022)