For years Armando Valdes has owned a couple of lucrative medical clinics in the Westchester area of Miami-Dade County, collecting millions of dollars from major private insurers for supposedly treating patients ailing from arthritis, ulcers and inflammations.
With his profits, Valdes scooped up a waterfront condo in Pompano Beach along with residences in Aventura, Estero and Sebring, not to mention a Cadillac Escalade and Tesla Model S, federal authorities say. He also salted away about $1.7 million in his business and personal bank accounts.
Now, federal prosecutors plan to seize all of Valdes’ assets after charging him with 10 counts of healthcare fraud for submitting false claims to United Healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield for prescription drug treatments that his patients did not need or receive since 2015.
Valdes, who was arrested Friday, has an arraignment and bond hearing scheduled for Wednesday. No defense attorney is listed for him on the Miami federal docket.
Valdes, 63, billed the giant insurers about $38 million for Infliximab, which is known by the brand name Remicade, according to an indictment filed last week. It is an expensive immunosuppressive drug approved for the treatment of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis, among other illnesses. The insurers, United and Blue Cross, paid about $8 million to his medical clinics, Gasiel Medical Services and Urgent Care C II, in the 8900 block of Coral Way, the indictment says.
If convicted of all 10 counts of healthcare fraud in the FBI case, Valdes could face up to 100 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
While the vast majority of healthcare fraud cases in South Florida involve false claims filed with the federal insurance program, Medicare, a rising number of them entail fraudulent bills submitted to private insurers such as United and Blue Cross. For years, the region has been recognized as the nation’s capital of healthcare fraud.
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