Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis has announced the arrest of Dr. Celestino Santi of Accident Care Center of Boggy Creek for allegedly defrauding nine auto insurance companies out of more than $500,000 in unlicensed medical billing.
Patronis said, “Insurance fraud is estimated to cost Americans more than $40 billion a year and reports show this translates to an estimated premiums increase to the average U.S. family of between $400 and $700 a year. Scams like this one put people in harm's way and drives up the cost of insurance."
An investigation by Patronis’ fraud detectives revealed that Dr. Santi allegedly concealed the ownership of Accident Care Center of Boggy Creek, a motor vehicle accident medical treatment center, to avoid the licensing requirements of the Health Care Clinic Act.
Investigations revealed that for approximately five years, Dr. Santi was allegedly acting as a "straw owner" to disguise the identity of the true owner, an unlicensed individual. Unlicensed medical treatments were then billed to various insurance companies under patients’ Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.
Santi was booked into Lake County Jail on charges of scheme to defraud of more than $50,000, false and fraudulent insurance claims of more than $100,000, grand theft of more than $100,000, and operating an unlicensed health care clinic.
If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 30 years in prison. Additional arrests are expected. Individuals charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
If you suspect insurance fraud, please go to FraudFreeFlorida.com.