RIVERSIDE – On March 8, 2018, four men were arrested and charged in a health care fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion case in which losses amounted to more than $ 8 million. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office filed a 33-count criminal complaint against the suspects who were arrested in California and Idaho.
“This is a case that involved numerous people in two different states,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “By local, state and federal investigators combining their resurces and expertise, they were able to crack this case and arrest the suspects.”
- Brian Andrew La Porte, 42, of Poway
- Dennis Davin Bonavilla, DOB: 39 of Murrieta
- Jeffrey D. Ogletree, 43, of Meridian, Idaho
- Babar Iqbal, 42, of Irvine
Investigators from the California Department of Insurance and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office began an investigation in December 2016 after receiving a complaint of possible crimes being committed.
Evidence found during the investigation revealed the following:
- In 2013, La Porte created Free Choice Healthcare Foundation (FCHF), based in San Diego, which was purported to help the indigent pay health care premiums. FCHF was not registered as a charity in California.
- Ogletree, a vice president at a hospital in the Midwest, met with La Porte to discuss the premium program. Ultimately, based on Ogletree’s recommendation, the hospital donated more than $5 million to FCHF in January 2015. That donation was to be used to provide health insurance to 333 residents in the Midwest for a year. Hospital officials later learned that policies were not purchased for most of those 333 people and, in the few cases where policies were issued, premiums were not paid during that year.
It is alleged that the money instead was used in a variety of ways including:
- paying Ogletree $1 million and additional money so he could pay cash for his Idaho home;
- as a down payment for La Porte’s home;
- and funds were paid to limited liability companies owned by La Porte, Ogletree, and Bonavilla.
The investigation also revealed that La Porte, who had used the last name La Porta in the scam, is a convicted felon in a San Diego case who served a 30-month federal prison sentence for conspiracy to commit wire fraud as part of a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme.
Investigators also found that in January 2016, La Porte and Bonavilla obtained employer group health plans from United Healthcare for two businesses: Drexel Group LLC and Kingmakers LLC. The applications include a list of fulltime employees who would be eligible for coverage under the policy provisions. Within five weeks of policy issuance, 22 of 23 Kingmakers employees were treated by Dr. Iqbal. More than $1 million was paid on those claims. Four of those "employees” told investigators they never worked at Kingmakers. They had Medi-Cal coverage, which their doctor, Iqbal, told them would not cover their treatment. Iqbal had each sign papers to get a free health insurance policy. They were never charged for the premiums or deductibles.
Bank records show more than $500,000 was paid into the Drexel LLC accounts by Dr. Iqbal’s company, Riverside Regional Surgery Center.
It was also determined that La Porte did not file his personal state income tax or for any of the involved limited liability companies for the years 2015 and 2016.
This investigation, subsequent arrests and filed case involved multiple agencies including the California Department of Insurance, the state Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse, the Franchise Tax Board, and the FBI.