State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced today at a press conference the success of “Operation Flames and Flood Two” which charged 31 individuals with insurance fraud. According to the State Attorney’s Office the operation focused on public adjuster, Jorge Fausto Espinosa, who was hired by policy holders to damage the insured homes for the purpose to collect ill-gotten gains from insurance companies. Jorge Fausto Espinosa, who is already facing charges in a similar fraud case from last year, called “Operation Flames and Flood One”, deliberately staged fire and water damage claims to residential homes in Miami-Dade County, Lehigh Acres, and Naples.
“Operation Flames and Flood Two” focused on the expansion of Espinosa’s fraud activities through his Miami-Dade company, Nationwide Adjusters LLC, into the west coast of Florida into Collier and Lee counties. According to the State Attorney’s Office operation two involved 20 staged fires with loses close to $ 7 million. Several homeowners also face charges for their role in the fraud.
The Florida Department of Financial Services Insurance Fraud Division charged Trisha Michelle Milstead a resident of Century, FL with one felony count of insurance fraud. Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille stated that on September 8, 2014 Milstead was involved in a vehicle accident, but at the time her vehicle policy had lapsed for non-payment. She then reinstated her insurance policy on September 9, signing a statement that there had been no previous damage during the lapsed time period. Two days after the policy was reinstated she filed a claim for the accident and damage associated.
Trisha Milstead remains in the Escambia County Jail with bond set at $10,000 and is scheduled for an arraignment hearing next month.
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On May 12, State Attorney Bill Eddins announced the arrest of Randall Peterson. Peterson was a Cantonment insurance agent who conducted a fraudulent insurance scheme while operating under multiple business names which involved the theft of several hundred thousand dollars of commissions and bonuses from American National Insurance Company and Liberty National Insurance Company.
Peterson’s scheme began with him advertising job opportunities on the Internet for his fictitious company, College Consultants of the Gulf Coast. He then had hundreds of applicants provide information for life insurance which he and his associates expressed to the job applicants as a free job benefit. The prosecutor’s office showed that Peterson used the information from the job applicants to complete life insurance applications that he submitted to the insurance companies in order to receive advanced commissions, which were as much as 130 percent of the first year premiums and bonuses.
Randall Peterson was found guilty of racketeering and money laundering by Circuit Court Judge Ross Goodman. The state will request at a future hearing that restitution be set at an amount over $500,000.
Roxana Suarez La Rosa was arrested for PIP fraud, according to an April 28 release by the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud.
Suarez La Rosa owned and operated the Saint Jose Injury Center in Jacksonville that was behind a string of staged auto accidents, according to witnesses. Crash participants were asked to sign for medical services they never received, which were then billed to insurance companies. More than 50 insurance claims were generated in the alleged scam. Billing amounts were not disclosed.
If convicted, Suarez La Rosa faces up to 50 years in prison on racketeering and fraud charges. Additional cases against the medical clinic are pending.
The Office of the State Attorney in the 4th Judicial Circuit of Florida, which covers Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties, is handling the case.
Josue Pierrissaint, 30, was arrested by the Florida Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) for charges related to operating unlicensed Orlando PIP clinics earlier this year.
A string of three PIP clinics were opened by Pierrissaint from 2010 to 2012, as listed below.
- Edgewater Chiropractic was first opened in 2010. It was based in Lockhart, Fla., located in Orange County northwest of Orlando. Chiropractor Sham Mohammed was named as the straw owner.
- Dr. Wilson’s Straight Up Chiropractic was opened several months later by Pierrissaint in association with chiropractor Koteuaisa Wilson, who also served as the straw owner. The same Lockhart, Fla. address was used in the AHCA application. Wilson later left the clinic, which reportedly did not stop Pierrissaint from using her name.
- Dr. Koteuaisa Chiropractic was next launched by Pierrissaint in 2012. The clinic was opened in Orlando without the knowledge or consent of Dr. Wilson, although her name was listed on the AHCA paperwork.
Collectively, the clinics were paid in excess of $425,000 by 16 insurance companies.
Pierrissaint, who is not a doctor, was also arrested early in 2014 on similar charges.
The FLPIPGuide previously reported that Dr. Lherisson Domond, 82, was arrested earlier this year for acting as the straw owner of Unity Pain and Injury Center in Orlando. The Florida Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) recently revealed that Domond also fronted as the straw owner of Blesscare Chiro Center, also in Orlando.
Blesscare, an unlicensed clinic, was operated by Fortunard Dieuveillant Fonrose, 42. Medical billings totaling in excess of $86,000 were generated between May 2012 and November 2014 under Fonrose’s management, according to DIF reports.
Domond was behind the unlicensed Tamarac clinic of J.J. Health & Wellness also, according to DIF. Jonas Fils, 52, and Obinson Louis, 37, were reportedly the real owners of the clinic, which illegally billed almost $72,000 from May to September of 2013.
Keeping with the pattern of interconnections, Louis also operated the unlicensed Oakland Park clinic of Innovative Medical Rehab Center.
Overall, seven individuals were arrested for the fraudulent operation of the four unlicensed medical clinics.
The clinics were behind personal injury protection (PIP) fraud schemes responsible for more than $243,000 in illegal billings. DIF investigations are on-going, and additional arrests are expected.
Four Florida residents were arrested on April 1 for participating in a Broward County scheme to defraud insurance companies by filing false PIP claims.
The defendants filed eight claims concerning a Mercedes that belonged to one of them, according to a statement from the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud.
Claims alleged that the Mercedes had been run off the road. It was ultimately determined that only one of the eight claims was lawfully made and that the other seven were filed in furtherance of the defendants’ scam.
According to the statement, the four individuals arrested are:
- Ermes Falero, Boca Raton
- Gary Lee, Boca Raton
- Javier Navarro, Miami
- Michael Rumain, Point Pleasant
Falero, with Lee’s help, is alleged to have organized a scheme by which he and Lee would falsify documentation and use that false documentation to file fraudulent insurance claims. The remaining two defendants are accused of making fraudulent statements supporting Falero’s and Lee’s false insurance claims.
Falero, the scam’s main organizer, faces 150 years in prison. Lee faces up to 90 years, and the defendants who made the false statements each face 15 years in prison.