Two Miami firms plead guilty to massive Medicare fraud
BY JAY WEAVER
Two Miami-based companies at the center of a $200 million mental health racket pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court.
American Therapeutic Corp., which operated a chain of clinics in South Florida, and its subsidiary MedLink, were shut down last fall in the nation’s largest mental-health fraud case after submitting false claims for thousands of patients since 2003.
The taxpayer-funded Medicare program paid American Therapeutic $83 million to treat patients who didn’t need or receive group therapy sessions, according to the Justice Department. American Therapeutic transferred millions to MedLink to pay off employees and others.
The company owners, Lawrence S. Duran, 49, and Marianella Valera, 40, pleaded guilty last month to a sweeping indictment accusing them of directing a conspiracy to bilk Medicare by falsifying medical records and paying kickbacks to assisted living facilities for patients. The Miami couple was charged along with 22 others, including employees, doctors and patient recruiters. They each face more than 20 years in prison and are scheduled to be sentenced in September.
Their two companies face fines up to $83 million at a hearing in July.
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/05/03/2 ... z1LNjTj8pc
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