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Youthful exuberance adds a unique twist to fraud schemes


Kurt Cobain once said, "The duty of youth is to challenge corruption."

Apparently Daniel Suarez wasn't a big Nirvana fan.

Suarez is 24 years old, and he'll spend the remainder of his twenties in a prison cell serving a nine-year sentence for participating in a healthcare fraud scheme that stole $21 million from Medicare.

As it turns out, the scheme was a family business, according to the Miami Herald. Along with his mother, aunt and two other family members, Suarez served as the owner of eight different pharmacies in the Miami area. The group paid patients and recruiters for their Medicare ID numbers, and then used the information to bill Medicare Part D for prescriptions that were never dispensed. Last week, eight others involved in the scheme, including Suarez's mother and aunt, were sentenced to nine years as well.

According to the indictment, Suarez and his family members started submitting claims to Medicare as far back as 2010, meaning Suarez was just old enough to buy cigarettes and lottery tickets when the scheme kicked off.

It wasn't a particularly unique scheme, but Suarez, with his youthful vigor, didn't make a concerted effort to fly under the radar. As the Washington Post reports, Suarez invested his earnings in flashy cars: A Rolls Royce Ghost that sells for as much as $321,000 and a Mercedes Benz worth more than $160,000.

But Suarez was as creative as he was ostentatious. He leased those cars to a luxury rental company to make it appear as though they were a business investment. He also bought a handful of FedEx trucks in an apparent attempt to launder his Medicare earnings, telling investigators that he was a franchisee of the company. Of course he also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on jewelry that he immediately pawned for cash, and racked up more than $2 million in credit card and restaurant charges.

You have to admire the youthful zeal with which he went about the whole thing. You also have to admire his lawyer's defense: His aunt made him do it.

"Mr. Suarez's whole life has revolved around his family," Frank Quintero wrote in court papers, according to the Herald. "Unfortunately, due to his young age and sense of familial duty, Mr. Suarez allowed himself to be involved in the instant conspiracy."

Apparently some family traditions are tough to break.