Last fall, the largest Medicaid fraud in American history unraveled with 24 indictments against Miami-based American Therapeutic Corporation and its owners, Lawrence Duran and Marianella Valera.
One of the indicted defendants, Margarita Acevedo, was a manager for the healthcare company from 2005, and was extensively involved in providing kickbacks to halfway houses, recruiters and assisted living facilities in return for their providing thousands of mostly mentally ill patients.
Federal prosecutors have estimated that somewhere between $100 and $200 million was taken in the phony Medicaid fraud that also required the complicity of other company employees and psychiatrists.
For some reason, Medicaid officials were not alerted to the unusually high number of claims that were being generated from American Therapeutic Corporation’s seven clinics. It was not until some clinic employees complained that many of the patients were there unnecessarily and were beyond treatment due to advanced dementia and Alzheimer’s disease that an investigation was launched.
The millions of dollars that the clinics collected were used to finance the two owners’ lavish lifestyle that included jewelry, real estate and luxury automobiles. The owners are currently being held without bail at the Federal Detention Center in Miami.
Although Ms. Acevdeo faces 12-15 years in federal prison, her expected cooperation in helping to convict the other 23 defendants will probably earn her a reduced sentence.