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September 17, 2011

Record-long 50-year prison sentence for Medicare fraud imposed in Florida

As detailed in this Miami Herald article, late yesterday a "federal judge socked a convicted Miami healthcare executive with a 50-year prison sentence, the longest term ever imposed on a Medicare fraud offender."  Here are the notable details:

New York transplant Lawrence Duran once ran a multimillion-dollar mental health company in Miami, lobbied Congress for his industry and tooled around town in a Maserati. His next stop: federal prison — likely for the rest of his life.

On Friday, a federal judge slammed Duran, 49, with a 50-year prison sentence for orchestrating a staggering $205 million scam at his Miami-based chain of mental health clinics.   The sentence may end up being the longest prison term ever imposed on someone convicted of Medicare fraud.

Duran’s lawyer, Lawrence Metsch, had urged the judge to be realistic and give him a sentence between 20 and 25 years, arguing that 50 years means a “death sentence because he would die in prison.”  But the judge, after a three-day sentencing hearing, sided with the government’s push for the extraordinarily high sentence, saying there is a “critical need for deterrence against healthcare fraud” in South Florida, the nation’s capital of Medicare corruption.

Previously, the highest Medicare fraud sentence was 30 years — given in 2008 to a Miami physician, Ana Alvarez-Jacinto, convicted in an HIV-therapy scheme.

After the sentencing, Duran shook his lawyer’s hand and then smiled to tearful relatives, as he shuffled in shackles out of the courtroom escorted by U.S. marshals.  His ex-wife, Carmen Duran, and his only sibling, Kenia Duran Ramirez, said the judge’s sentence was not a “fair assessment” of the former executive’s life, saying his work for the mentally ill was “not all bad.”

This year, Duran and his girlfriend, Marinella Valera, co-owners of American Therapeutic Corp., pleaded guilty to a variety of conspiracy, fraud and money-laundering charges after they failed to reach plea deals with the Justice Department.  

Duran, in custody since his arrest last October, was probably his own worst enemy during the sentencing hearing. Although he showed remorse for running American Therapeutic as a criminal enterprise for eight years, he also admitted he tried to steal as much money as he could from the taxpayer-funded Medicare program.

His company collected $87 million in Medicare payments after submitting $205 million in bogus bills, which he generated by paying kickbacks to recruiters to supply patients suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s and addictions.  He admitted they could not have benefited from his company’s purported group therapy sessions.  Justice Department attorney Jennifer Saulino called Duran a “cold, calculating man” who exploited both vulnerable patients and the government’s healthcare program for the elderly and disabled....

Duran’s girlfriend, Valera, 40, a therapist, is scheduled to be sentenced Monday. Prosecutors plan to urge the judge to give her a 40-year prison sentence.  A total of 34 people, including American Therapeutic employees, doctors, therapists, nurses and recruiters, have been charged in the massive fraud case, which is being investigated by the FBI and Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General.

September 17, 2011 at 02:27 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Is this specific or general deterrence? If the judge means to deter the defendant, then the sentence is constitutional. If the judge intends to deter others, then the sentence violates the procedural due process right of the defendant ot a fair trail. And the prosecutor's motion stems from an improper motive. It is unfair to punish a person to prevent the future crimes of others unknown to the defendant, and which are still speculative.

To my knowledge, this defense and counterattack on the ethics of the prosecutor and of the judge have never been tried. They are self-evident. Why have they not been tried? Because the defense lawyer owes its job to the prosecutor and judge and not to the defendant. The defense lawyer is really working for the other side. I would urge defendants to sue their defense lawyers for lawyer malpractice, and to have severely beaten of they those kind of resources. These are traitors to the defendant.

Naturally, if the defendants were truly guilty of causing more than $6 million in damage (the article says, $205 million), they must be summarily executed because they have assassinated more than one economic life. To deter (the defendants).

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 17, 2011 2:39:37 PM

LOL My big problem is where is the notice for the charges for the IDIOTS in to govt that gave them the 87 MILLION to begin with!

Posted by: rodsmith | Sep 17, 2011 4:31:38 PM

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