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Clinic operators convicted in miami medicare fraud scam

Posted on October 06, 2009 3:00 AM EST

Despite the representation of two noted Miami Medicare fraud defense lawyers, two Miami business people were convicted in federal court after a jury heard several days of testimony. Scarlet Duarte and Rechart Garcia were convicted for healthcare fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. Federal authorities alleged that both defendants owned and operated six clinics in Miami-Dade, Lee and Collier Counties.

Testimony was provided at trial that alleged that the two defendants billed Medicare for $51 million fraudulent claims for HIV treatments that were never provided to patients. Despite the effective cross-examination of several government witnesses by the Miami criminal defense lawyers defending the case, their clients were convicted nonetheless.

The Miami healthcare fraud scheme netted $21 million dollars in profits for the clinic owners. The clinic owners paid kickbacks to patients to appear at the clinic and pretend to receive HIV treatments. The patients never received the treatments, yet the defendant billed Medicare as if they had. Fifteen other individuals involved in the massive scheme to defraud have already entered guilty pleas or been convicted at trial for their involvement in the clinic's fraudulent operations. Duarte and Garcia are each facing 20 years in federal prison. Their sentencing is scheduled on December 14, 2009, in federal court.

Despite the number of arrest and convictions, most of the patients in Miami Medicare fraud are rarely indicted and prosecuted. One theory behind this claim is that the patients receiving kickbacks become government witnesses against the clinic owners and doctors. In exchange for their testimony, they are absolved of their crimes. A second theory may be that the patients are such small fish, the federal government makes the conscious decision not prosecute due to a lack of manpower or resources. In either event, the federal government needs to send a message to the patients, as well as the clinic owners to reduce the number of Miami Medicare fraud cases.

The number of Miami Medicare cases has risen exponentially over the past several years. Federal investigators and government prosecutors have focused on this new age crime to prevent the inevitable bankruptcy of the federal healthcare system.

Miami Clinic Operators Convicted in $51 Million Fraud, South Florida Business Journal, October 5, 2009.
Categories: Fraud