It’s no secret that the United States and Cuba have had a tension-filled relationship for many decades. Perhaps, that is putting it mildly. Back in 1960, the U.S. imposed a long list of restrictions and bans against the Cuban government and severed diplomatic ties with the Caribbean island a year later. The Cuban Missile Crisis certainly didn’t help things in 1962 as Cuba’s alignment with the Soviet Union during the Cold War only exacerbated tensions.
Of course, we are only glossing over a wealth of history here. The bad blood has lessened over the years, but citizens of both nations remain well aware of the historical conflict. Cuban refugees have long attempted to migrate to the United States in order to escape communist rule under former president, Fidel Castro. We have not always been very welcoming. This is why we find a new story emanating from the world of health care fraud to be so amusingly ironic.
Florida man accused of fraud caught trying to ride jet ski to Cuba.
As reported by Kate Feldman for New York Daily News last week, a Key West resident, wanted for his role in a multi-million-dollar health care scam, was caught trying to escape to Cuba. According to the report, 54 year-old Ernesto Cruz Graveran was trying to flee the United States on a jet ski.
Graveran is the owner of Xiko Enterprises, Inc. which is a durable medical equipment company. Durable medical equipment refers to any medical equipment that can be used in the home to aid in a better quality of living. They include iron lungs, oxygen tents, Nebulizers, CPAP, catheters, hospital beds and wheelchairs.
Xiko Enterprises, Inc. offers durable medical equipment to eligible Medicare beneficiaries. Feldman reports that, in the span of two months this year, Graveran allegedly submitted fraudulent health care claims worth $4.2 million to Medicare. The claims were for durable medical equipment that was never requested by or provided to beneficiaries.
Graveran was found floating in the water south of Key West.
Evidently, the jet ski was not powerful enough to transport Graveran from Florida to Cuba. Feldman reveals that U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers found him floating in the water south of Key West. His jet ski had broken down.
“The jet ski had been adapted for longer trips, presumably to cover the 90 miles from South West to Cuba, as well as a supply of food and water,” Feldman reports, “A suspected human smuggler was also with Graveran. Graveran has been ordered to be held without bail at the Federal Detention Center in Miami until his trial.”
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