Fraud suspect caught allegedly trying to flee to Cuba on jet ski

Water craft had been upgraded with fuel cell and extra water and food, say officials

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Wednesday 15 June 2022 01:18 EDT

A fraud suspect was caught in the waters off the Florida Keys as he allegedly tried to flee to Cuba on a jet ski.

Officials say Ernesto Cruz Graveran, 54, is accused of trying to escape to his native country after being charged in a $4.2m Medicare fraud scheme.

Prosecutors say that his company Xiko Enterprises Inc, submitted approximately $4.2m in fraudulent health care claims to Medicare earlier this year for medical equipment that Xiko never provided and that Medicare beneficiaries never asked for. The company was paid more than $2.1m.

Investigators say that in May they approached the suspect several days before he was due to travel to fly to Havana. The criminal complaint states that he agreed to cooperate with a criminal probe and officials took his passport.

But last week the US Coast Guard and US Customs and Border Protection officers say they discovered Mr Cruz Graveran onboard a broken down jet ski in the waters south of Key West, just 90 miles from Cuba.

Officials say that the suspect was on board the jet ski with an indivdual “known to law enforcement to be an alien smuggler.”

And they say that the jet ski had been upgraded with a fuel cell for long trips, as well as extra food and water.

“I believe it is probable that Cruz Graveran was in fact fleeing to Cuba aboard the Jet Ski to evade prosecution,” Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Carlos Suarez wrote in the criminal complaint.

A federal magistrate judge in Miami has ruled that Mr Cruz Graveran should be held without bond pending his trial.

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