Duran and Valera, who each pleaded guilty this year to Medicare fraud charges of running the biggest mental-health racket in the nation, face the prospect of spending the rest of their lives in prison for orchestrating the $205 million scam…
In the past year, Duran and Valera were charged along with 32 other American Therapeutic employees, psychiatrists, counselors, nurses, marketers, patient recruiters and others who supplied Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for kickbacks. American Therapeutic billed Medicare for thousands of patients, including many with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, who had no way of benefiting from the company’s costly group-therapy sessions, prosecutors said.
Duran and several of the employees also held “charting” parties, where they would falsify the medical records of beneficiaries to make it look like they needed therapy when they actually didn’t.
About a dozen of the defendants have been convicted, including Duran and Valera’s top aides, Margarita Acevedo, who ran the marketing operation to bring in patients, and Judith Negron, who was in charge of a subsidiary, MedLink, which laundered Medicare profits to pay employees and kickbacks. Another employee, Joseph Valdes, who worked under Acevedo, also pleaded guilty.
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