MIAMI, June 28 (UPI) -- Four executives of a Miami-area mental health care hospital were convicted Friday of participating in a nearly $70 million Medicare fraud scheme.
A federal jury found the four defendants guilty of taking part in the scam to submit fraudulent billings by Hollywood Pavilion, a mental health care hospital, from at least 2003 to this past August. The four defendants were indicted in October.
Karen Kallen-Zury, 59, of Lighthouse Point, Fla., and Daisy Miller, 44, of Hollywood, Fla., were each found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and healthcare fraud, five substantive counts of wire fraud and two substantive counts of healthcare fraud. Michele Petrie, 64, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and healthcare fraud and three other wire fraud counts. Kallen-Zury, Miller, Petrie and a fourth defendant, Christian Coloma, 49, of Miami Beach, Fla., were also convicted of one count of conspiracy to pay bribes related to Medicare, with Kallen-Zury and Coloma also convicted on five substantive counts of paying bribes.
"The defendants convicted today participated in a massive scheme that attempted to defraud the United States of approximately $70 million by taking advantage of Medicare beneficiaries," Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman said. "By paying bribes to a network of patient recruiters and falsifying documents, the defendants created the illusion of providing intensive psychiatric care to qualifying patients, when in reality they provided no care of substance.
"Today's verdict illustrates the success of the inter-agency Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is dedicated to stamping out Medicare fraud."
Since it was created in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine U.S. cities, has charged more than 1,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion, the Justice Department said in a release.