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DOJ Charges Florida Man With COVID-19 Testing Fraud

NEW YORK — The US Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida on Wednesday said it has charged the registered agent and manager of Lab Tess with six counts of wire fraud and three counts of aggravated theft.

According to the US Department of Justice, Willie Murray used Florida-based Lab Tess to submit fraudulent claims to the US Department of Health and Human Services seeking reimbursement for COVID-19 testing services supposedly provided to uninsured patients. Additionally, he used personal identifying information of jailed individuals in Florida, as well as dead individuals, claiming they had been tested for COVID-19 in homeless shelters and electrical substations. 

Lab Tess, the DOJ said, did not provide COVID-19 testing services to the individuals.

The DOJ claims Murray submitted more than 126,000 fraudulent claims and was reimbursed about $5.6 million, which he used, in part, to buy real estate in South Florida.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud count and a consecutive two years of jail time for each aggravated identity theft count. The federal government also plans to forfeit almost $5.7 million in US currency, nearly $1.6 million from a bank account, and seven real estate properties in Florida, all alleged to be proceeds from Murray's actions.