88 Doctors Charged in Connection with False Passing
AUG 1 -- SAN JUAN, P.R. - Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, and Dave Bourne, Resident Agent in Charge, Food and Drug Administration, Miami Field Office (FDA), with the collaboration of Anna Coschignano, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS), and Jerome Michael Harris, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Caribbean Division, today jointly announced the indictment of 91 individuals involved in a scheme to corruptly issue medical licenses to individuals who had not passed the medical revalidation examinations required by the Puerto Rico Board of Medical Examiners. On Wednesday, August 1, 2007, a federal grand jury issued thirteen (13) indictments, accusing the defendants for their involvement in this scheme. The arrest operation is still ongoing.
As part of the requirements for a regular license to practice medicine in Puerto Rico, candidates must attain passing grades on all three sections of the revalidation exams offered by the Puerto Rico Board of Medical Examiners. The first and second parts of the exam consist of written multiple choice questions. The third part consists of a practical section. Only candidates having passed the first two parts of the exam are allowed to sit for the practical examination. The defendant Yolanda Rodriguez-Torres, was an employee of the Board of Medical Examiners of Puerto Rico. Rodriguez-Torres is alleged to have abused her position on the board by having created false passing result sheets for the two written parts of the revalidation examination for failing candidates, charged in the indictment as co-conspirators of Rodriguez-Torres, in exchange for money, things of value, and in some instances, for free.
Other defendants charged in these indictments are alleged to have brokered the illicit sale of medical licenses by Yolanda Rodriguez-Torres to failing candidates for licensure.
81 of the defendants are accused of having conspired to deprive the Board of Medical Examiners of Puerto Rico of the honest services of its employees and officials, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1346. The object of the unlawful conspiracy was the to obtain fraudulent medical licenses for candidates who had failed the Basic Skills and/or Clinical Skills sections of the revalidation examination provide by the Board of Medical Examiners of Puerto Rico. False passing scores sheets for these sections of the exam were fraudulently created and made a part of the applicant‘s official file in the Board, thereby replacing the candidates’ true failing results. This corrupt substitution of scores allowing the failing applicants to improperly complete the remaining licensing requirements and ultimately to fraudulently obtain licenses to practice medicine in Puerto Rico.
Yolanda Rodriguez-Torres, Daniel Solis-Mercado, Pedro Colon-Ramos, Margarita Vicioso, Manuel Salgado-Diaz, Miguel De Aza-Herrera, Francisco Fontanez, Luis Aponte, Wanda Ayala-Marrero, Jose Barroso-Torres, Cesar Berroa-Baez, Sonya Castellanos-Hernandez, Marcial Castillo-Correa, Geraldo Castro-Betances, Shahid Chaudhary-Mian, Nancy Cruz-Negron, Louis Cruz-Rendon, Fernando Del Amo-Mojica, Maximilien Espinal-Ureña, Eduardo Fernandez-Roque, Ivette Hernandez-Ramirez, Julio Marin-Concepcion, Gerado Mejis-Rodriguez, Eusebio Mercedes-Peña, Gilberto Modesto-Lebron, Luis Navedo-Ortiz, Raysa Pacheco-Medina, Pedro Perez-Mercado, Martin Pernas-Pichardo, Richardo Pietri-Sepulveda, Lizzette Ramos-Leon, Maria Rosario-Paredes, Anibal Rossello-Torres, Luis Santiago-Delgado, Mariliz Suarez-Colon, Carlos Torres-Benedictino, Gladys Vallejo-Urgelles, Vivian Vega-Rodriguez, Nancy Barbosa-De La Cruz, Mayra Mora-Delgado, Nidal Abukhalil-Rashid, Mildred Baez-Robles, Julio Castro-Cruz, Gloria Castro-Torres, Marilyn Pineda-Romero, Harry Reyes-Lopez, Carmen Sein-Bravo, Glenda Davila-Torres, Maria Diaz-Herrera, Samuel Escobar-Hernandez, Adalgisa Ferreira-Perez, Segundo Martinez-Reyes, Ileana Mendez-Garcia, Getzaida Montijo-Cabiya, Claudio Ortiz-Diaz, Lisette Pabon-Jusino, DelvisRamirez-Rodriguez, Cesar Rivera-Morell, Evelyn Torres-Benitez, Elba Torres-Benitez, Yolanda Fermin-Lopez, Marjorie Santiago-Bigay, Wanda Adorno-Arroyo, Yamilet Fajardo-Cruz, Jorge Garcia-Peña,Santos-Gonzalez-Rodriguez, Blanca Martinez-Rivera, Angel Mendez- Lugo, Luis Ortiz-Matos, Jose Perez-Padron, Doriselle Puente-Morales, Barbara Ramos-Cardenas, Sugeyl Rodriguez-Rosada and Luis Jimenez-Maldonado were accused accordingly of False Statement Relating to Health Care Matter, Mail Fraud, Honest Service Fraud, Mail Fraud Conspiracy, Witness tampering and forfeiture allegations, all in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Sections 982, 1035, 1341, 1346 and 1349. Defendant Gilberto Rodriguez-Santiago was also charged with Witness Tampering, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1512.
Enery Cordero-Guillama, Herminio Mendez-Lopez, Luis Martinez-Robles, Mayra Perez-Vega, Obet Jimenez Ortega, Olga Cruz Roman, Guelmi Gonzalez-Viruet, Gerardo Gonzalez-Dionisi, and Denys Cabral-Jimenez were separately accused of providing false statements in connection with health care fraud and forfeiture provisions, all in Violation of Title 18 United States Code, Sections 1035 and 982.
Dr. Efrain Feliciano-Irizarry, was accused in a one count indictment of Mail Fraud and Forfeiture provisions, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341 and 982.
Arcelio Torres-Martir, Nabal Barreto-Urdaz and Jose Martinez-Gonzalez were charged with aiding and abetting to commit Mail Fraud, Mail Fraud Conspiracy and Forfeiture provisions, all in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Sections 2, 1341, 1346 and 982.
Arcelio Torres-Martir, already charged in another indictment, Pablo Valentin-Torres, and Camilo Lopez-Cofiño were accused of Wire Fraud, Wire Fraud Conspiracy and Forfeiture Provisions, all in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Sections 2, 1343, 1346 and 982.
Jerome M. Harris, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Caribbean Division stated: “As a result of these 13 indictments against 88 fraudulent physicians, the DEA has identified over 57 physicians who have obtained a DEA registration to prescribe controlled substances. The DEA Caribbean Division’s Diversion Group is seeking the revocation of their registrations administratively. In addition the Diversion Group continues a criminal investigation to gather all the necessary evidence against those fraudulent physicians who have prescribed controlled substances in order to charge them of violating the Controlled Substances Act. We will present the results of our investigation to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecution. I have serious concerns when the most trusted members of our society are undermined by a few unscrupulous actors. DEA has the duty to protect the citizens for whom we serve"
Penalties for the offenses alleged in the indictment range from five (5) years to twenty (20) years of imprisonment and fines of up to two hundred fifty thousand ($250,000.00). The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial and the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by the FDA, with the collaboration of HHS-OIG, and with the assistance of the DEA, Puerto Rico Police Department, and the Puerto Rico Department of Treasury (Hacienda) . The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney, Jose Ruiz, Chief of the Criminal Division, Assistant United States Attorney Jose Pizarro, Deputy Chief of the Civil Division, and Assistant United States Attorney Julia Díaz-Rex.