By Kevin Deutsch
A Parkland resident who helped orchestrate a nationwide kickback and bribery scheme involving orthotic braces for Medicare beneficiaries was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison Thursday—the maximum allowable sentence for his crimes, authorities said.
As part of his sentence, Patsy “Pat” Joseph Truglia, 54, was ordered to pay $18.3 million to the affected government health programs and an insurance company. U.S. District Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington also entered a money judgment against Truglia for $10,117,738 and ordered him to forfeit numerous assets, including $9,308,235 in funds seized from his various financial accounts; his Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, and Mercedes automobiles; jewelry; and his $1.25 million lakefront home in Parkland Golf & Country Club.
All the assets were traced back to Truglia’s criminal conduct, according to the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, one of the government agencies that probed the fraud schemes.
Truglia pleaded guilty in October 2021 to two counts of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of making a false statement in a matter involving a health care benefit program after he got caught running a criminal telemarketing scheme.
Beginning in January 2018 and continuing into April 2019, Truglia and other conspirators, including co-defendant Ruth Bianca Fernandez, of Lauderhill, generated “medically unnecessary physicians’ orders” for orthotic devices like knee braces, back braces, and wrist braces, all through Truglia’s telemarketing operation in the Tampa area, according to federal court records.
Prosecutors said that Medicare beneficiaries’ personal and medical information was “harvested” to create unnecessary brace orders. According to the Department of Justice, the orders were then forwarded to purported “telemedicine” vendors that, in exchange for a fee, paid illegal bribes to doctors to sign the orders, often without contacting the beneficiaries.
Prosecutors said that the fraudulent, illegal brace orders were returned to Truglia’s telemarketing operation, which used the orders as support for millions of dollars in fraudulent claims submitted to Medicare.
To avoid Medicare scrutiny, Truglia and Fernandez spread the fraudulent claims across five storefronts operated under Truglia’s ownership and control, and Fernandez’s day-to-day management, according to DOJ.
In total, Truglia, Fernandez, and other conspirators caused approximately $25 million in fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicare, resulting in approximately $12 million in payments, prosecutors said.
“Every defendant, in this case, shared a common trait—greed,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Brian Payne. “The desire for money fueled them to commit crimes against our healthcare system and prey upon those in our society who deserve our highest respect, the elderly and military veterans.”
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