Spain’s top court has denied a U.S. request to extradite a man accused of swindling $230 million in Medicare claims from Florida’s largest health maintenance organization before it collapsed in 1987.
The unanimous ruling Tuesday by the National Court means Miguel Recarey Jr. is now a free man because the five-year statute of limitations on his alleged crimes in the United States has expired, The Miami Herald reported Friday.
“We’re going to try to persuade the Spanish government to explore if we have any remedy,” said U.S. Justice Department spokesman John Russell. “It’s a disappointing decision.”
Wilfredo Fernandez, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami that had pressed for extradition, said Friday: “We’re delighted that the Department of Justice will continue its efforts to bring Mr. Recarey to justice.”
Recarey built International Medical Centers, a small Miami clinic he started in 1981, into the nation’s largest Medicare-certified HMO. It collected nearly $1 billion in Medicare money before it was declared insolvent.
Regulators said some $230 million was never accounted for and Recarey fled the country in 1987 while facing charges of bribery, wiretapping and defrauding the government.
Recarey, who was detained in 1993 and spent a year in a Madrid jail, was unavailable for comment but “deeply moved” by the decision.