I’ll swap you your life­sav­ing medicine for a Lam­borgh­ini

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers -

Af­ter read­ing the news com­ing out of Florida in the past year, Out­liers is start­ing to think the FBI ought to con­sider do­ing crim­i­nal back­ground checks on any­one buy­ing a Lam­borgh­ini—es­pe­cially if they pay for it with cash.

Two ac­cused Ponzi schemers in Florida, Scott Rothstein of Mi­ami ($1.2 bil­lion) and Beau Di­a­mond of Sara­sota ($38 mil­lion), were well-known for driv­ing the flashy Ital­ian race cars. Now we’ve learned that Ihos­vany Mar­quez, a con­spir­a­tor in a mas­sive South Florida Medi­care fraud scheme, also drove Lam­borgh­i­nis.

Mar­quez, in fact, bought two of them, be­cause good­ness knows you can’t show up for a yacht party in the same or­ange Lam­borgh­ini Gal­lardo you ar­rived in the week be­fore. You need a yel­low one, too, and make it a Lam­borgh­ini Mur­cielago, with those cool scis­sor doors that open up­ward like a space­ship’s.

Mar­quez pleaded guilty last week to fed­eral charges of Medi­care fraud. Court doc­u­ments show that de­spite pur­chas­ing mul­ti­ple Lam­borgh­i­nis, and other high-priced cars such as Bent­leys and Fer­raris, Mar­quez re­ported not one dime of earn­ings to the Florida Rev­enue Depart­ment dur­ing the pe­riod of time when the seven shell com­pa­nies he con­trolled bilked Medi­care out of $55 mil­lion.

In the kind of scheme for which South Florida has be­come in­fa­mous in re­cent years, Mar­quez and sev­eral con­spir­a­tors ob­tained Medi­care num­bers and in 2005 be­gan billing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for med­i­ca­tion and in­fu­sion equip­ment to treat HIV, AIDS and can­cer, along with pain man­age­ment drugs, vari­cose vein treat­ments and “auto ac­ci­dent-- re­lated treat­ments,” his in­dict­ment says.

In re­al­ity, no pa­tients were treated, and the $55 mil­lion went straight into the con­spir­a­tors’ pock­ets, Mar­quez ad­mit­ted in court.

On a se­ri­ous note, Out­liers can’t help but be struck by a sad jux­ta­po­si­tion of news events. While Mar­quez was rip­ping off the sys­tem with fake bills for HIV ser­vices, a New York hospi­tal fa­mous for its life­sav­ing treat­ments of HIV pa­tients was de­volved into fi­nan­cial in­sol­vency. This month St. Vin­cent’s Hospi­tal in Man­hat­tan an­nounced it can no longer af­ford to keep its doors open, weighed down by mil­lions in debt. A bit­ter day in­deed.

Ar­chi­tect Frank Gehry is seen out­side his re­cently com­pleted, mind­bend­ing cre­ation: Cleve­land Clinic Lou Ruvo Cen­ter for Brain Health in Las Ve­gas, which spe­cial­izes in neu­ro­log­i­cal-dis­ease re­search.

Lam­borgh­i­nis seem to be the posh choice of Ponzi schemers.

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