HomeMiami NewsFederal jury convicts Florida physical therapist assistant in a $2.6 million health...

Federal jury convicts Florida physical therapist assistant in a $2.6 million health care fraud


Miami, Florida – A federal jury in Miami found a physical therapist assistant guilty on February 16 of conspiring to commit health care and wire fraud, along with five separate charges of health care fraud, following a trial that lasted a week.

Tania Cesar, a 55-year-old resident of Hialeah, Florida, served as a physical therapist assistant at Elite Therapy Group Inc. (Elite), based in Miami, from May 2019 to February 2021. Throughout her employment, Cesar was responsible for signing more than 1,500 treatment notes for physical therapy services she did not actually provide. These fraudulent records resulted in claims exceeding $2.6 million being submitted to Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS).

Testimonies from several individuals involved, including Elite’s owners, detailed a financial arrangement with Cesar, wherein she would occasionally visit the clinic to sign these notes without delivering any patient care. Testimonies from some of Elite’s patients also confirmed they never received any treatments from Cesar, nor had they ever met her. Additionally, evidence showed Cesar falsely claimed to have delivered treatments on days when she was verifiably abroad, according to airline and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) records.

Cesar also held a full-time position at another Miami-based physical therapy clinic, where the combined hours from both her alleged work at Elite and her actual work hours indicated she was working more than 24 hours on several occasions.

Before her fraudulent activities at Elite, Cesar engaged in a similar deceitful arrangement with Zion Medical (Zion). The owner of Zion revealed that he had entered into an agreement with Cesar identical to the one she had with Elite’s owners, where she would fabricate treatment notes for services she never rendered. These fabricated notes were then also billed to BCBS, contributing to the fraud.

Cesar’s sentencing is scheduled for May 6, under U.S. District Senior Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. The case’s announcement was made by Markenzy Lapointe, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Jeffrey B. Veltri, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office.

The FBI in Miami conducted the investigation. The prosecution is being led by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Egozi and Lindsey Lazopoulos Friedman, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Mitchell Hyman managing the asset forfeiture aspect of the case.

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