Miami, Florida – A federal district judge in Fort Lauderdale yesterday sentenced the last of 16 defendants for their roles in a large-scale kickback and bribery scheme involving employees and vendors of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers located in West Palm Beach and Miami.
Earron Starks, 51, was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $2,451,000 in restitution. His wife, Carlicha Starks, 42, was sentenced to three years of supervised release, including one year of home confinement, and ordered to pay $501,000 in restitution.
Earron and Carlicha Starks, both from Hallandale Beach, Florida, were vendors who sold supplies to the VA. They, as did other vendors, paid kickbacks to VA employees in exchange for getting the VA’s business. Court filings describe how in exchange for cash bribes, medical center employees used government credit cards to order medical and other hospital supplies from these corrupt vendors. In some cases, the prices of the supplies were grossly inflated. In other cases, the orders were only partially fulfilled or not fulfilled at all. Ultimately, the fraud scheme enabled the Starks couple and other corrupt vendors to receive over $20 million in purchase orders with VA Medical Centers in West Palm Beach and Miami.