OIG Focuses on Mental Health Centers

On February 16, we wrote about a $200 million healthcare fraud scheme in southern Florida in connection with improper billing for Medicare mental health services. In an April 14 Department of Justice press release, the two orchestrators of the fraud scheme–Lawrence Duran and Marianella Valera–pleaded guilty at an arraignment hearing to all counts charged in a superseding indictment, unsealed on February 15.

According to the press release, “‘These defendants billed Medicare for mental health services that were illegitimate or never provided,’ said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida. ‘In this way, these defendants engaged in an eight-year scheme that defrauded Medicare out of more than $200 million in payments for purported community mental health services. We will continue to aggressively prosecute all types of Medicare fraud and all levels of fraudsters, up and down the organizational chain, to help preserve our scarce Medicare dollars for those who really need it, the sick and the elderly.'”

Duran and Valera have been in custody since October 2010. Their sentencing is scheduled for July 13 and each could face decades in prison if given the maximum sentence.

For more information on how mental health centers can reduce governmental scrutiny, please contact Robert S. Iwrey, Esq. or Abby Pendleton, Esq. at (248) 996-8510 or (212) 734-0128 or visit the HLP website.

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