An accounting manager for the University of South Florida’s health system (specifically for the University Medical Services Association, a non-profit corporation that assists USF in the billing, collection, and disbursement of funds) embezzled $12.8 million in the period 2014-20. In recent days he has entered into a guilty plea with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida after spending the millions on home renovations, travel, and internet porn.
Ralph Puglisi’s sentence has not yet been determined. He could face incarceration for up to twenty years. The University says that no monies from state, philanthropic, grant, or research funds were stolen. Puglisi took the money from revenues generated by patient care.
According to the FBI, health care fraud (including embezzlements such as Puglisi’s) amount to the loss of tens of billions of dollars a year. This means hospitals have to make cutbacks in their purchasing, and/or insurance premiums must increase to accommodate the thieves’ lifestyle preferences.
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Puglisi was in charge of processing credit card payments. According to investigators, there was almost no oversight as he did so. It wasn’t until late 2020 that the growing “accounts receivable” balance sparked the investigation that led to these charges.