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Miami Father and Son Charged with Money Laundering

8/28/2001

TALLAHASSEE - A father and son from Miami have been charged with money laundering for allegedly helping to hide more than $300,000 paid by insurance companies from around the country for bogus claims stemming from the operations of a phony South Florida laboratory shut down earlier this year by Department of Insurance investigators.

Sergio Boca Negra Sr., 54, of 854 S.W. 142nd Place, Miami, and his son Sergio Boca Negra Jr., 23, of 10945 S.W. 125th St., Miami, are accused of helping to hide insurance payments collected by Biolab Clinical, Inc. The laboratory listed its address as 14629 S.W. 104th Street, #222, Miami, but the address is that of a mailbox rental facility.

Investigators believe the operation billed more than 40 health and auto insurance companies and fraudulently used the names of up to 100 South Florida policyholders. Investigators are still trying to determine how they got the insureds' names and personal information for billing, and said claims are still coming in.

"The participants in this operation billed insurance companies for more than $1 million, and it could have been worse if perceptive policyholders had not carefully read statements from their insurance companies," Florida Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher said. "I expect additional arrests as we continue to pursue those who devised this complex medical billing scheme."

Investigators from the department's Division of Insurance Fraud arrested Negra Sr. and Negra Jr. on Monday. Negra Jr. is charged with five counts of unlawful financial transactions, a second-degree felony also known as money laundering, and his father is charged with one count. Each faces an additional count of organized scheme to defraud, a first-degree felony. Under sentencing guidelines, Negra Jr. could face up to 105 years in prison and his father 45 years.

The operation seems to have attracted families. The four people arrested so far this year in connection with the bogus lab operation have been two fathers and their children. Jose R. Jimenez, of Miami, was caught in January picking up checks at the mailbox, and his daughter, Lisa, also of Miami, later surrendered to investigators on 55 counts of insurance fraud, one count of organized fraud, one count of grand theft and five counts of money laundering.

Department investigators began investigating the scheme after hearing complaints from several people that their insurance companies were being billed for lab services they didn't receive. Investigators traced the operation's address from the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statements the insureds were receiving from their insurance companies.

The claims that were submitted reflected that the insureds allegedly had blood tests conducted at Biolab, but investigators have determined no such tests ever occurred.

Investigators followed the trail of checks issued by the insurance companies to a bank account in the name of Biolab Clinical, Inc., at Bank of America's Kendall branch. The account was opened in March 2000, and investigators said Negra Sr. was an authorized signer. The bank account has been seized. Investigators believe that Negra Sr. and his son played a significant role in the operation by covertly moving the fraudulent proceeds from the bank account at Bank of America and converting the funds to cash.

The arrest was the result of an 11-month joint investigation by the Florida Division of Insurance Fraud, The United States Defense Criminal Investigative Service, The United States Postal Service, Office of Inspector General, The Office of Personnel Management, Office of Inspector General, The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, with the assistance of Assistant State Attorney Julian Mack, Miami Dade County Prosecutor's Office, Economic Crimes Unit.

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.

The division recently was recognized for the third consecutive year by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud as leading the nation's insurance fraud bureaus in the number of cases referred for prosecution in the year 2000, as well as leading in the number of open investigations and convictions.