A tip from insurance company investigators and a cooperating witness helped bring down a PIP insurance fraud ring that was operating out of Evans Rehab Center in Fort Myers and Charlotte Wellness and Rehab in Port Charlotte.
According to Lt. Mark Fritz of the Florida Department of Financial Service’s Fraud Division, Nationwide Insurance lost more than $33,000 as a result of the two clinics’ fraudulent practices.
Insurance company investigators, who were suspicious that Evans Rehab was allegedly billing for services that were not provided as well as recruiting patients, alerted authorities who worked with a cooperating witness.
“We had a traffic accident report with their names on it and that’s what got us in the doors,” Lt. Fritz explained in a WINK news update.
That witness was apparently paid to sign documents, but did not get treatment even though the insurance company was still billed for it. That led investigators to Charlotte Wellness and Rehab where illegal insurance billing was also found, in addition to the facility operating without the proper license.
According to Today – Ft. Myers, the following suspects were arrested as a result:
- Receptionist Gloria Feliz, 31, on seven counts of insurance fraud and one count of fraud
- Massage therapist Andres Bravo, 52, on a charge of grand theft
- Facilitator Joe Gevans, 51, on criminal solicitation and patient brokering
- Clinic owner Gerard Jean Stephen Valere, 51, for patient brokering and attempt to solicit, conspire
- Chiropractor Ronald Woodley, 63, for filing a false health clinic application
- Jordany Estimond, 44, on charges of patient brokering and attempt to solicit, conspire
Woodley, Gevans and Valere were booked into the Charlotte County jail, while Feliz, Estimond and Bravo were detained in Lee County. If convicted, each faces up to five years in prison.
Authorities are looking for additional conspirators in this case.
The Department of Financial Services will reward tipsters up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme. The department has already awarded almost $342,000 to more than 50 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program.