[PHOTO CREDIT: Lake County Sheriff’s Office]
[Original Publish Date: 10/31/19]
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KISSIMMEE, Florida – A doctor with a longtime office in Tavares, Florida, defrauded nine insurance companies out of more than $500,000 stated Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis in a press release Tuesday.
An investigation by Patronis’ detectives revealed Celestino Santi, 62, concealed ownership of Accident Care Center of Boggy Creek – a motor vehicle crash treatment center – to skirt licensing requirements of the Health Care Clinic Act. Santi allegedly acted as a “straw owner” to conceal the identity of the true owner, who is unlicensed, according to the press release. Insurance companies were allegedly billed for unlicensed medical treatments under the patient’s personal injury protection (PIP) insurance.
Lake Legal News was the first media organization in Lake County to break the news of Santi’s arrest.
Santi, of Sanford, was taken into custody at his Expresscare office at 1300 East Burleigh Boulevard, Tavares by Tavares Police Oct. 24 on criminal charges and transported to the Lake County Jail, Tavares Police Sgt. Sarah Coursey told LLN Wednesday.
Santi was charged with operating a clinic without a license, grand theft of $100,000 or more, false and fraudulent insurance claims and conducting a scheme to defraud $50,000 or more.
“Scams like this one put people in harm’s way and drives up the cost of insurance,” Patronis said in the release.
This isn’t Santi’s first brush with trouble. Santi was previously the subject of disciplinary action by the Florida Department of Health, accusing him of having sexual intercourse with a female patient at his Expresscare office in Tavares. In a final order, dated Sept. 19, 2013, Santi was placed on probation for two years with strict conditions governing his interactions with female patients.
If convicted of the criminal charges, Santi faces up to 30 years in prison, according to the release. Additional arrests are expected.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Marilyn M. Aciego, began writing for Lake Legal News in 2010. In addition, she has made more than two dozen appearances on live national television, including Nancy Grace and the Greta Van Susteren show, along with her appearance on Evil Twins. Contact her with breaking news, tips, and feedback by sending an e-mail to 352Tips@gmail.com. You can also contact us on our Facebook page — and make sure you “Like” and “Follow us” there. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]