Pair Arrested for PIP Fraud Scheme in Fla.

August 26, 2003

A Hialeah, Fla. clinic owner and another individual were arrested and charged with one count each of racketeering, organized scheme to defraud, insurance fraud and grand theft following a joint investigation conducted by the state’s Department of Financial Services’ Fraud Division, the Miami-Dade Police Department, Hialeah Police Department, and the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office, Organized Crime Unit.

According to investigators, Juan Carlos Gonzalez, owner of Best Choice Medical Center, and Daisy Llamo, both of Hialeah, allegedly engaged in an ongoing scheme to bill auto insurance companies for thousands of dollars in phony healthcare services for accident victims. In many cases, investigators believe the auto accidents never even occurred but were staged. Gonzalez and Llamo allegedly falsely billed patients’ PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage.

If convicted on all charges, the defendants could both face in excess of 30 years in prison.

“The cost of fraudulent claims eventually gets passed on to consumers through increased premiums and increased costs for services,” said Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher. “It’s estimated that PIP fraud adds as much as $240 to the average family’s auto insurance premium each year.”

The arrests follow earlier charges against two Best Choice patients, Sarah Lopez and Carlos Gonzalez, who allegedly participated in a staged accident in February and received bogus treatment at Gonzalez’s clinic.

A former Hialeah Gardens policeman, David Rodriguez, was also recently charged in connection with Best Choice. Rodriguez allegedly created a phony accident report of a staged auto accident.

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