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Florida doctors guilty of Medicare fraud

MIAMI, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Two Florida doctors have admitted to conspiring to defraud Medicare of $110 million by billing the federal health insurance program for bogus HIV treatments.

Drs. Carlos Contreras, 60, and Ramon Pichardo, 58, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges Thursday in federal court, The Miami Herald reported Sunday. They face up to 10 years in prison.

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The doctors said they operated a Miami clinic on behalf of brothers Carlos, Luis and Jose Benitez. Authorities say the brothers fled to Cuba before their Medicare fraud indictment was unsealed in June.

The Benitezes are accused of operating about a dozen HIV-therapy clinics that collected $84 million in Medicare payments between 2001 and 2004.

The doctors reportedly paid $100 to $150 kickbacks to patients for each visit to their clinic in exchange for using their Medicare number to bill the health insurance program.

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