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Hialeah Man Gets Prison Sentence in Billing Scheme

12/14/2001

TALLAHASSEE - A Hialeah man is facing 13 years in prison for his part in a scheme that fraudulently billed more than 40 insurance companies for more than $400,000 using a network of shell corporations and rented drop boxes located throughout Dade and Broward counties.

Alejandro Noriega, 41, of 2524 West 65th St., Hialeah, was found guilty Thursday on 39 counts of grand theft, 39 counts of insurance fraud, one count of organized scheme to defraud and one count of violation of probation.

"This sentence sends a message that our investigators can unravel even the most complex cases, and those who get caught stand to face tough penalties," said Florida Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher.

An ongoing investigation by the Department of Insurance, Division of Insurance Fraud, has led to the arrests of five other alleged participants. More arrests are anticipated.

Investigators said Noriega played a major role in the illegal billing scheme by opening up four shell corporations in Miami-Dade County. The corporation names were Palmetto General Services Inc., Cedars Professional Services Inc., Columbia Association Group Inc., and St. Johns Association Service Corporation. While the companies were registered with the state, the addresses were for rented drop boxes.

Throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties Noriega opened a total of eight drop boxes used to collect insurance checks sent by insurance companies to pay the bogus medical claims. Using various aliases, Noriega also opened four bank accounts in Miami-Dade County and used them to launder insurance checks, investigators said. More than $60,000 in Noriega's control was seized.

Noriega was arrested on March 5, 1997, and again on May 22, 1997. On Oct. 8, 1997, Noriega entered into a plea agreement, accepting eight years of probation and two years of community control. Noriega also agreed to surrender all funds obtained from the billing scheme and to cooperate with the state in its ongoing investigation of the scheme.

Noriega fled shortly after entering the plea agreement. On March 13, 2001, division investigators found Noriega living in Naples and arrested him on an outstanding warrant for violation of probation.

Miami-Dade County Judge Jose Rodriguez handed down Thursday's sentence. Assistant State Attorney Guy Singer in the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office handled the prosecution.

The Department of Insurance, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance. Anyone with information about this case or another possible fraud scheme should call the department's Fraud Hotline at 1-800-378-0445. A reward of up to $25,000 is offered for information leading to a conviction.