|June 22, 2017
Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and the Clearwater Police Department today arrested a Pinellas County resident for exploiting two elderly and disabled individuals. In two separate occasions, Fernando Gutierrez, 58, allegedly gained access to victims’ personal papers and funds to illegally transfer money into personal accounts.
In one incident, Gutierrez allegedly established himself as power of attorney for an elderly victim without proper consent to the arrangement. Gutierrez then allegedly transferred the victim’s funds to an account with the defendant as the trustee. When Gutierrez lost power of attorney, he continued to use the victim’s funds.
In the second incident, Gutierrez went to an assisted living facility and presented himself as a health care proxy or guardian for an incapacitated elderly victim that suffered from a fall. As guardian, Gutierrez allegedly gained access to the victim’s personal papers and used the information to assume control of the victim’s bank account. The investigation revealed that Gutierrez redirected the assets in the victim’s personal account to a shared account between the defendant and victim. Gutierrez then allegedly transferred money in the shared account to personal accounts.
Gutierrez faces two counts of exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult, each a first-degree felony. If convicted, Gutierrez faces up to 60 years in prison and $20,000 in fines. The State Attorney’s Office for the Sixth Judicial Circuit will prosecute this case.
The Florida Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigates allegations of patient abuse, neglect and exploitation in facilities receiving payments under the Medicaid program. Additionally, the MFCU investigates and prosecutes providers that intentionally defraud the state's Medicaid program through fraudulent billing practices. Medicaid fraud essentially steals from Florida's taxpayers. From Jan. 2011 to the present, Attorney General Bondi's MFCU has obtained more than $700 million in settlements and judgments. In 2017, the MFCU was awarded the Inspector General's Award for Excellence in Fighting Fraud, Waste and Abuse. This award is presented annually to the nation’s top MFCU by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.