As this blog has been reporting for months now, federal investigators have been really cracking down on crimes like Southern California Medicare and Medical fraud. A breaking story out of Miami highlights how much the government means “business.”
According to an April 14th story in the Miami Herald, Lawrence Duran and his wife, Marianella Valera, pled guilty to stealing $200 million from Medicare as part of a massive conspiracy. The couple could face 20 years in prison – for running what the Herald describes as “The nation’s largest mental health racket.”
The couple, who owned seven different mental health clinics, got indicted last October on charges of defrauding 22 defendants, including psychiatrists, recruiters, and even senior employers in their companies. The Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, did not mince words: “they reaped millions in illegal profits by operating a sham mental healthcare company that provided unnecessary and illegitimate treatments to patients, many of whom were recruited through bribes and kickbacks, and then they laundered the proceeds.”
Duran and Valera tried to negotiate a plea deal for the 38 count indictment but ultimately failed. It’s unclear whether they’ll be charged with trying to steal $83 million from Medicare (the amount they actually received) or $200 million (the amount that their company billed Medicare). The resolution of this niggling issue may have a strong bearing on their prison sentences. At this point, the couple could face a decade in prison… or two decades.
Irrespective of what happens to this couple, the harshness and severity of the justice delivered should make anyone charged with a similar crime of Los Angeles credit card fraud, Southern California insurance fraud, or any other Southern California white collar crime nervous.
Fortunately, an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney can provide powerful and useful strategic guidance – but your choice of lawyer does matter. You want to make sure that your attorney has trial experience, the capability to investigate and understand the sophisticated charges you face, and good working relationships with prosecutors.
Mr. Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group served for many years as a prosecutor of crimes like Southern California white collar crime, and he has a hugely successful rate at jury trials. You can use his experience to help you develop and execute a smart and results-oriented defense.