Two patient recruiters, Anthony Roberts and Derek Alexander, were also found guilty of participating in the scheme by seeking and accepting kickbacks in exchange for sending patients to the Biscayne Milieu clinic in an office park off the Palmetto Expressway.
All eight defendants, except Moran, are being held at the Federal Detention Center as they await sentencing in December.
Their convictions followed another long trial that ended in June. Two South Florida doctors, psychiatrists Mark Willner of Weston and Alberto Ayala of Coral Gables, the medical directors for American Therapeutic Corp., were found guilty for their roles in a conspiracy to fleece $205 million from Medicare.
In addition, the jury convicted Vanja Abreu, program director for American Therapeutic in Miami-Dade, of the same healthcare-fraud conspiracy offense, and two other defendants, Hilario Morris and Curtis Gates, of paying kickbacks to group home operators in exchange for providing patients.
Since American Therapeutic’s six South Florida clinics shuttered nearly two years ago, more than 30 defendants have been charged in the case with the majority pleading guilty.
In his latest report, Health and Human Services’ Inspector General Daniel Levinson cited the case of American Therapeutic, which was paid $83 million by Medicare from 2003-10, as an example of the federal program’s “vulnerabilities.” The chain’s owner, Lawrence Duran, is serving a 50-year prison term, the longest sentence for a Medicare fraud offender.
Overall, the report criticized Medicare for its lack of oversight of about 200 so-called community mental health centers in 25 states, which received a total of $218.6 million in 2010. Most of those clinics, which were not identified, were located in Florida, Texas and Louisiana.
Half of all the mental health centers “met or exceeded the threshold that indicated unusually high billing,” the report says.
About two-thirds of those “questionable” therapy centers were located in eight metropolitan areas, including Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville. The Miami area, with 32 questionable clinics among a total of 52 in South Florida, scored the worst nationally, according to the inspector general’s report.
In response, Medicare officials acknowledged that mental health services “have historically been vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse.”
But Medicare Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner wrote in a July memo to the inspector general that the program “is taking additional steps to address potential vulnerabilities.”
She said Medicare has adopted computer software to screen prospective clinic operators, including doing criminal background checks, and to scrutinize claims, which are regularly paid within 14 days.