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Man missing at sea may be escaping Medicare fraud charges

A Miami man has vanished after a fishing trip in the Florida Keys — or possibly fled to Cuba to escape pending Medicare fraud charges.  1rCCcW.Em.56

The U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday that it is continuing its searching for Robert A. Garcia-Esquerro, who disappeared after leaving the Key West Marina Saturday morning aboard Miss Juliette, a 28-foot white center console boat with a yellow stripe.

The 43-year-old was believed to be alone, said Petty Officer Mark Barney of U.S. Coast Guard Group Key West.

“We are trying everything we can to locate him,” said Barney. “Why he's missing is pretty much on the back burner to search and rescue.”

Garcia’s wife reported that Garcia-Esquerro was supposed to return Saturday night from what he told her would be a fishing trip. The Coast started its search the next day. The weather around Key West during the first weekend of grouper season was sloppy, with wind gusts up to 20 knots and rough sea conditions off-shore.

After several days of failing to spot the small boat or its captain, officials decided to notify the news media Thursday about Garcia-Esquerro. Barney said the search was most recently focused in an area 10-15 miles south of Marathon.

After federal officials disclosed that Garcia-Esquerro was also wanted on a federal warrant for healthcare fraud charges in Miami, there were questions about whether he was missing or did not want to be found.

The Miami Herald confirmed Thursday that Garcia-Esquerro has been charged with Medicare fraud under a sealed indictment returned by a federal grand jury earlier this year. Under those circumstances, however, the pending charges would remain confidential. It’s unclear how — or if — Garcia-Esquerro might have known that he was facing arrest. Read more.  

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