4 Busted in $200 Million Miami-Based Medicare Fraud - NBC 6 South Florida

4 Busted in $200 Million Miami-Based Medicare Fraud

Owners of health centers sent mental patients for unnecessary treatments: Feds



    4 Busted in $200 Million Miami-Based Medicare Fraud
    Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. was found guilty of gender discrimination and is required to pay millions in damages.

    Four managers and operators of a Miami-based healthcare company were arrested early Thursday by federal agents, accused of running part of a $200 million scheme that allegedly billed Medicare for mental health treatments that patients didn't need.

    Executives with American Therapeutic Company, one of the country's largest community mental health centers, have been charged with fraud in one of the biggest Medicare scams ever, according to court documents.

    A second company, Medlink Professional Management Group, was also named in the 13-count indictment unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida.

    Lawrence S. Duran, Marianella Valera, Judith Negron and Margarita Acevedo were all charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Duran and Valera, both with ATC, were also charged with 11 counts of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Acevedo was also charged with conspiracy to defraud.

    American Therapeutic allegedly altered files of patients with dementia and paid owners of assisted living centers and halfway houses to force the patients to attend programs at their health centers.

    Patients who realized they could cash in on the scheme did so by providing their Medicare numbers. Other patients who weren't coherent enough to demand kickbacks got nothing.

    Officials with the Department of Justice and the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General made the arrests Thursday morning, and the suspects were expected to make court appearances later in the day.