Individuals who work for the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) have extremely important jobs. They are tasked with identifying and combating waste, fraud and abuse in the HHS’s more than 300 programs. These programs include Medicare as well as others conducted by the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.
The last thing you would expect from an HHS-OIG agent is an obstruction of justice.
45 year-old, Alberico Ahias Crespo, however, has brought shame upon his title within the department. A Special Agent with the HHS-OIG, Crespo and his 65 year-old accomplice, Jorge Diaz Gutierrez have been charged with conspiring to distribute Oxycodone, obstruct justice and make false statements to the FBI.
As reported by the Southern District of Florida branch of the United States Department of Justice yesterday, Crespo and Gutierrez were charged by South Florida federal prosecutors in a Miami federal court. It was revealed that their alleged crimes took place between September 2019 and June 2020. During that time, Crespo worked as part of the South Florida Health Care Fraud Strike Force.
Crespo took full advantage of his position as a Special Agent.
He used his position to both advance the drug distribution crimes and impede related federal health care fraud investigations. These investigations included ones that he himself was working on. According to the complaint affidavit, Gutierrez (who the DoJ refers to as Diaz) was part of an illegal Oxycodone distribution system involving patients, pharmacies and medical clinics.
“Diaz allegedly recruited patients and sent them to particular medical clinics to obtain Oxycodone prescriptions that the patients did not need,” reads the DoJ report, “Once the patients obtained the prescriptions, they would give them to Diaz in exchange for money. Diaz allegedly would fill the prescriptions at certain pharmacies and sell the Oxycodone pills (at a mark-up) to third party street dealers.”
The affidavit points out that Crespo and Gutierrez were associates.
The Special Agent allegedly used his position at HHS-OIG, where he was working on health care fraud cases, to protect his associate’s Oxycodone operation. Crespo did this by monitoring Strike Force investigations involving Gutierrez, accessing and disclosing sensitive law enforcement information to him, updating him on the progress of health care fraud investigations and coaching him on how to lie to investigators and tamper with evidence.
“The narcotics and obstruction charges each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment,” the DoJ points out, “The materially false statements charge carries a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment.”
Are you an attorney who is currently trying a health care fraud case?
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