The Miami Herald reports that a Florida man is now facing over 50 years in Federal prison for Medicare fraud while running a chain of mental-health clinics in Florida. This sentence is the longest single sentence handed down for a Medicare fraud conviction.
Over an eight-year span, Duran collected $87 million in Medicare payments and $205 million in bills that he generated by paying kickbacks to physicians who would refer patients to his clinic, American Therapeutic. He then began to be investigated after a former nurse filed a civil whistle-blower case in 2007 with the Justice Department. The Justice Department contacted American Therapeutic's lawyer about the investigation, yet Duran did not stop committing fraud until he was finally arrested.
While showing remorse for his actions during the sentencing proceedings, Duran admitted that he tried to steal as much money as he could from Medicare. Also, while Duran claimed that he lived a "middle-class life" while committing fraud, he drove a Maserati, sent his three children to private school, and paid for his ex-wife's home in North Miami while traveling out of the country with his girlfriend.
The judge gave an extremely high sentence to send a message that there is a "critical need for deterrence against healthcare fraud" in Florida. As of now, Florida is the nation's capital of Medicare corruption. Both Duran and his girlfriend, who co-owned American Therapeutics with Duran, pled guilty to conspiracy, fraud, and money-laundering. Thirty-four other people, including American Therapeutic employees, doctors, therapists, nurses, and recruiters have also been charged. Prior to Duran's sentencing, the highest Medicare fraud sentence was thirty years back in 2008.