Health executive's lobbying arm probed

Oct. 11, 2011 at 4:07 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Washington prosecutors say they investigating the lobbying arm of a former Miami healthcare executive who is to serve a 50-year sentence for fraud.

Larry Duran pleaded guilty to submitting an estimated 866,000 bogus claims and receiving $87 million from Medicare by charging for mental health therapy unsuited for aged dementia and Alzheimer's disease patients, who never received treatment, The Washington Post reported.

Court documents said Duran, 49, and his 40-year-old girlfriend, Marianella Valera, were co-owners of American Therapeutic Corp., a chain of seven Florida clinics that paid up to $400,000 a month in kickbacks to assisted living centers, halfway homes and others to supply patients for their clinics.

However, doctors reportedly faked records or signed off on charts without seeing patients, the Post said.

In what has been described as one of the largest Medicare fraud in U.S. history, Duran was accused of submitting $205 million in phony claims.

In September, Duran was sentenced, but Department of Justice prosecutors in Washington said they are now focused on an advocacy group, the National Association for Behavioral Health, Duran help set up that spent more than $750,000 on lobbying efforts during the past five years and help stage fundraisers for members of Congress.

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