A Cuban man charged in a $4.2 million Medicare fraud scheme is being held as a flight risk after officials said he tried to flee the U.S. on a Jet Ski.
A federal judge in Miami ordered Ernesto Cruz Graveran, 54, of Hialeah, to be detained pending trial Monday, according to court records. He has been charged with health care fraud.
According to a criminal complaint, Cruz Graveran’s company, Xiko Enterprises Inc., submitted approximately $4.2 million in fraudulent health care claims to Medicare from February to April this year for medical equipment that Xiko never provided and that Medicare beneficiaries never requested. Medicare paid Xiko over $2.1 million.
Investigators learned last month that Cruz Graveran was planning to travel to Havana and approached him several days before his flight, the complaint said. Cruz Graveran agreed to cooperate with a criminal investigation during an interview, and officials said they took his passport.
But last Wednesday, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers reported finding Cruz Graveran aboard a broken-down Jet Ski in the waters south of Key West, headed in the direction of Cuba. The island nation is about 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of the Florida Keys.
Cruz Graveran was aboard the personal watercraft with a person known to law enforcement as a migrant smuggler. Investigators say the Jet Ski was outfitted with a special fuel cell for long trips and was carrying extra food and water bottles.
Online court records didn’t list an attorney for Cruz Graveran.