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West Park Lab Manager Indicted On Fraudulent COVID-19 Testing Charges




Last week, a story emanating from our home state caught our attention. The Middle District of Florida branch of the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported that a West Park, Florida resident had been charged with six counts of wire fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft. That individual is 55 year-old Willie F. Murray, Jr.

 

The report reveals that Murray is the registered agent and manager of Lab Tess, LLC. The company purportedly provided its customers COVID-19 testing services. However, Lab Tess has never provided any such services. Instead, the business was used by Murray to submit fraudulent claims for reimbursement to the Health Resources and Services Administration for COVID-19 testing services.

 

The testing services were supposedly provided to uninsured individuals.

 

According to the report, Murray used personal identifying information of individuals incarcerated by the Florida Department of Corrections. He also used credentials of individuals who were falsely reported as having been tested at homeless shelters and electrical substations. Murray even went so far as to use the names of deceased individuals in his claims.

 

“Murray submitted more than 126,000 fraudulent claims and received reimbursement in the approximate amount of $5.6 million, which he used, in part, to purchase real properties in South Florida,” reports the U.S. Attorney’s Office. It goes on to note that an indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

 

If convicted, Murray faces a hefty prison term.

 

Murray can face a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud count. This would be followed by a consecutive two years of imprisonment for each aggravated identity theft count. In addition, the indictment has notified Murray that the United States intends to forfeit $5,671,611.74 in U.S. currency, $1,578,925.56 from a bank account, and seven real properties located in Punta Gorda, Fort Lauderdale, Belle Glade, Hollywood and South Bay, Florida. They are all are alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the Murray’s offense.

 

The pandemic caused an uptick in fraudulent claims.

 

As you can imagine, the many cases of COVID-19 sadly gave many people new reasons to commit health care fraud. As explained by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, to combat such fraudulent claims, in May 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The objective was to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud.

 

As the report informs, “the task force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts.”

 

Are you an attorney who is currently working a healthcare fraud case?

 

The clinical experts at Allegiant Experts can help you! We coordinate and support courageous whistleblowers that shine lights on fraud, waste and abuse. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 407-217-5831. You may also email us at info@allegiantexperts.com.

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