Florida CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Arrest of Miami Clinic Owner for Filing Fraudulent PIP Claims
Contact: Alexis Lambert
Feb. 1, 2012
TALLAHASSEE—Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced today the arrest of a Miami clinic owner for submitting fraudulent Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claims from his unlicensed clinic.
Juan M. Dieguez, who also used the false identity Jorge R. Gonzalez, is charged with operating a health care clinic without a license, grand theft and insurance fraud following an investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF). Dieguez has owned and operated Venetian Rehab Center, located at 434 SW 12th Ave., since October 2010, but was arrested while working at another clinic, Therapy-Diagnostic, Tech Medical. Dieguez was booked into the Miami Dade County Jail on Friday and is being held on $65,000 bond. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
“Insurance fraudsters have learned how to game Florida’s PIP system and every honest Floridian with a car in the driveway ends up paying,” Atwater said. “We must put policies in place to stop those who make a career out of stealing our fellow Floridians’ hard-earned dollars.”
To demonstrate the increase of insurance fraud in Florida, consider the fact that in 2008, a 40-year-old driver in Miami with an unblemished driving record was paying $582 in PIP premium, and in 2010, this same driver paid nearly $1,050 for the same coverage. This is an 80 percent increase.
Dieguez’s arrest last Friday and a subsequent fingerprint check showed that he was using a false identity under the name Gonzalez. He had obtained a false driver’s license in 2009 using a fictitious birth certificate from Puerto Rico. DIF’s investigation further revealed that Dieguez absconded from his probation following a conviction for Medicaid fraud in 1999. Further investigation showed that Venetian Rehab was originally opened by Dieguez’s brother in 2003 and Dieguez added his false identity as an officer in 2010.
This case is part of a continuing crackdown by CFO Atwater’s Division of Insurance Fraud and the National Insurance Crime Bureau in the fight against auto insurance fraud in Florida. Farmers Insurance, Kingsway Amigo, State Farm and United Auto provided assistance in this investigation.
Anyone with information regarding suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445 . Individuals who provide tips can remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward of up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $250,000 to approximately 40 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official and officer of the Florida Cabinet, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.