Tuesday, May 21

Jupiter man sentenced to 4 years in prison for fraud involving closed sober home

A 39-year-old Jupiter man has been sentenced to four years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $4.4 million in restitution for defrauding the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program related to his closed sober home.

Joseph Toro also was sentenced to three years of supervised release Wednesday by District Judge Rodney Smith in Fort Lauderdale.

He entered a guilty plea in February.

Toro owned and operated Reawakenings Wellness Center, a substance abuse facility that treated patients, including FEHBP beneficiaries, from 2013 until January 2018, when it was evicted in Miramar.

After the closure, Toro continued to submit FEHBP insurance claims, using personal identifying information of former patients, for substance abuse treatment that was never provided, according to the Department of Justice. He called the insurance agency hotline, impersonated former patients and changed their mailing addresses to ones that he controlled so he could obtain the fraudulent insurance reimbursement checks, prosecutors said.

For more than a year, Toro submitted fraudulent claims on behalf of 29 former patients for over $6.7 million in substance abuse treatment that he knew his business never provided.

He obtained nearly $4.2 million in proceeds from the FEHBP. Toro also applied for and obtained a $150,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration during the COVID-19 pandemic.

His restitution total was $4,444,417.65.

In the application, he listed five employees and grossed over $1.4 million in 2019, when in truth the sober home had shut down years prior.

Toro purchased a waterfront mansion in Jupiter, a Lamborghini Aventador, a Mercedes G Wagon, two Cadillac Escalades, an Audemars Piguet watch and various other properties and luxury goods.

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