South Florida man accused of kidding Medicare, SBA loan program

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A South Florida man has been accused of suing the Medicare system and also using his pharmacy to obtain federal loans for small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said.

Carlos Belone, 37, of Coconut Creek was arrested Friday and made his first appearance in federal court in Fort Lauderdale for healthcare fraud and false testimony against a financial institution. Belone is expected to receive a $ 150,000 bond issue and will be indicted on July 24th. Neither he nor his defender were available for comment.

Belone, the owner of R&S Pharmacy in Coral Springs, is accused of filing $ 5.6 million with Medicare, the state health insurance company, for medically unnecessary or unprovided orthopedic braces, according to a criminal complaint. Investigators interviewed patients who said they did not need orthopedic braces or had their Medicare numbers authorized for pharmacy claims, the complaint said.

In addition, Belone is accused of having made fake loan applications at his pharmacy through the Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program.

The program offered a total of $ 650 billion in SBA loans that were approved by Congress under the CARES Act after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the nation in March. The two-year loans are granted as long as small businesses use them primarily to cover labor costs and operating expenses such as rent and utilities.

According to the complaint, Belone filed forged tax documents and fabricated income statements for his pharmacy in order to obtain more than $ 22,000 in PPP loans. Prosecutors say he used the money to promote his Medicare program and diverted $ 12,000 to a personal bank account.

The fraud case has been investigated by the FBI and the Inspector General’s Health and Human Services Office.

This story was originally published July 10, 2020 4:08 pm.

Jay Weaver writes about villains who specialize in scammers, rip-offs and conspiracies of millions. Since joining the Miami Herald in 1999, he has been reporting non-stop on federal courts, from Elian’s custody battle to A-Rod’s steroid abuse. He was a member of the Herald team that won the 2001 Pulitzer Breaking News Prize. He and three fellow Heralds were finalists in the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory coverage in 2019 for a series on gold smuggling from South America to Miami.

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