Oscar Sanchez, a Cuban-born American citizen, has been indicted for his part in a money-laundering operation that transferred about $31 million in Medicare payments to a Cuban bank.
The Grand Jury indictment, unsealed on June 13, alleges that between April 2005 and October 2009, Sanchez worked with a syndicate that stretched from Montréal to Trinidad to Cuba. Sanchez accepted money from criminal Medicare providers who offered fake HIV and medical equipment services. He provided cash to the providers to cover their daily expenses, and appeared to bank the money in Trinidad, but it was being deposited in Cuban banks, thereby increasing the capitalization of those banks. The deal worked for everyone.
Prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of over $22 million in Florida real estate and other property in Sanchez’s name, and he faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Sanchez will be arraigned on Friday, and his lawyer Peter Raben says he will plead not guilty, and “…he’s eager to see what the evidence is to defend this case in court.” He says Sanchez, who is 46, emigrated to the United States 32 years ago, which would place his immigration in 1980, the year of the Mariel boat lift.
Under normal circumstances, the $31 million might be recoverable. But there is no way that Cuba is going to release the funds. The best the government will be capable of is the sale of the real property forfeited by Sanchez, and given Florida’s current real estate situation, the sale could easily come in way below $22 million.