Dora Robaina’s résumé boasted plenty of experience working in Miami’s lucrative Medicare rackets.
She’d served two years in prison a decade ago for fraud and was facing new charges for her suspected role as a patient recruiter in another ring prosecutors say bilked millions from the government program. And before that case could even begin, she was set to spend three years behind bars for tipping off the scam’s ringleader so he could evade FBI agents who had come to arrest him at a Hialeah dental office where she worked.
But Robaina, 49, was also about to become a grandmother. So last spring, a federal judge granted her request to delay surrender so she could attend her grandson’s expected birth. She was supposed to turn herself in last June.
Instead, grandma fled — probably to Cuba. It’s long been a popular escape route for Medicare fraud fugitives. Over the past decade, dozens of defendants have sought haven on the communist island when confronted with criminal charges in Miami.
“She had an appointment with me but she never showed up,” said her defense attorney, David T. Alvarez, who obtained her bail and surrender delay with the support of the U.S. attorney’s office. “But it’s not my belief that she fled. It doesn’t make any sense because she was a minor player in the main case.”