Florida Health Care Operator Accused of Medicare Fraud Caught in Costa Rica
State Department Diplomatic Security Service Helps Locate Ernesto Angel Montaner
In Costa Rica, regional security officers from the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) assisted in the location and apprehension of Miami-area fugitive Ernesto Angel Montaner, who is wanted for Medicare fraud. He fled to Costa Rica in February 2009 as FBI agents closed in on his alleged $2.5 million enterprise to bilk the federal government and Medicare patients.
The FBI built a case against Montaner and his son over the course of a two-year investigation. In April, the father/son duo and another accomplice were charged in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida with defrauding Medicare of more than $2.5 million. But the elder Montaner had fled to Costa Rica more than a year before.
Court documents indicate that Montaner submitted false claims to Medicare for physical therapy that patients in his clinic never received. He submitted claims for occupational therapy when his clinics had provided massage or manicure services which Medicare does not cover. Further, Montaner is charged with paying illegal kickbacks to individuals and corporations that referred patients to his clinic.
The Regional Security Office at the American Embassy in San Jose received a request for assistance from the FBI to help find Montaner. DSS investigators teamed with local law enforcement and found the subject near San Antonio de Escazu, about two miles south of the Costa Rican capital. Montaner was arrested by Costa Rican authorities on July 9.
Jeffrey W. Culver, Director of the Diplomatic Security Service, stated, “It’s through Diplomatic Security’s relationship and cooperation with our U.S. colleagues in the FBI and with foreign law-enforcement agencies that this type success can occur. The success of this investigation is a result of DS’s worldwide mission and the critical law enforcement role we play.”
Because the Diplomatic Security Service is the most widely represented law enforcement organization in the world, DSS special agents provide significant assistance in tracking fugitives who have fled U.S. jurisdictions to avoid prosecution. During 2009, DSS assisted in the resolution of 136 international fugitive cases.
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is the U.S. Department of State’s law enforcement and security arm. The special agents, engineers, and security professionals of the Bureau are responsible for the security of 285 U.S. diplomatic missions around the world. In the Untied States, Diplomatic Security personnel protect the U.S. Secretary of State and high-ranking foreign dignitaries and officials visiting the United States, investigate passport and visa fraud, and conduct personnel security investigations. More information about the U.S. Department of State and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security may be obtained at www.state.gov/m/ds.