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Health Plan Employee Also Faces Charges : S.D. Man Indicted in HMO Embezzlement Case

May 14, 1987|GREG JOHNSON | Times Staff Writer

A Maxicare Health Plans employee and an unemployed San Diego man have been indicted in connection with a failed attempt to embezzle $7.5 million from the Los Angeles-based health maintenance organization earlier this year, federal officials said Wednesday.

The 24-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego charges Henry Salas Ramirez, 43, of Redondo Beach and Jerry L. Sanders, 45, of Chula Vista with transportation of stolen funds, entering a bank to commit a felony, wire fraud and scheming to defraud a bank.

Ramirez, who was released on bail, is a Maxicare supervisor who "had access to computers that are used to issue checks to Maxicare vendors," according to Steve Peterson, a deputy U.S. attorney in San Diego.

A Maxicare spokesman Wednesday declined to comment on the case.

Money Recovered

According to the indictment, Ramirez used a company computer to issue checks that were deposited in Security Pacific Bank accounts opened in San Diego by Sanders. Most of the money subsequently was wired to a bank in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, according to a spokesman for the FBI.

Maxicare and Security Pacific retrieved all but a small portion of the stolen money, Peterson said.

FBI agents arrested Sanders in the lobby of the Security Pacific Bank branch in downtown San Diego on May 1, as he attempted to cash two checks totaling more than $300,000. The checks were drawn against the accounts Sanders had opened to deposit the Maxicare checks, Peterson said.

Held Without Bail

Sanders has been held without bail since May 1 in a San Diego jail.

Ramirez was arrested May 7 in Los Angeles after Maxicare's internal investigation linked the data processing department supervisor to the checks, Peterson said.

Maxicare discovered the embezzlement attempt during a routine audit in late April and reported the apparent theft to the FBI.

Maxicare is one of the nation's leading health maintenance organizations. Two acquisitions late last year increased its membership enrollment to more than 2 million.

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