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MIAMI-AREA RESIDENT SENTENCED TO 35 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR LAUNDERING MONEY IN $200 MILLION MEDICARE FRAUD SCHEME

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 18, 2012

A Miami-area resident was sentenced today to 35 months in prison for her role in laundering money for a $200 million Medicare fraud scheme, announced the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Adriana Mejia, 40, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz in Miami. In addition to the prison term, Mejia was also sentenced to one year of supervised release.

Mejia pleaded guilty on July 13, 2011, to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Mejia admitted that she served as a money launderer for American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC), its management company, Medlink Professional Management Group Inc., and the owners and operators of ATC and Medlink. Mejia created fictitious entities and bank accounts to convert millions of dollars of Medicare payments into cash for ATC, Medlink and their owners and operators.

ATC, Medlink and a related company, the American Sleep Institute (ASI), were Florida corporations headquartered in Miami. ATC operated purported partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) – a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness – in seven different locations throughout South Florida and Orlando. ASI purported to provide diagnostic sleep disorder testing.

According to court filings, ATC’s owners and operators paid kickbacks to owners and operators of assisted living facilities and halfway houses and to patient brokers in exchange for delivering ineligible patients to ATC and ASI. In some cases, the patients received a portion of those kickbacks. Throughout the course of the ATC and ASI conspiracy, millions of dollars in kickbacks were paid in exchange for Medicare beneficiaries who did not qualify for PHP services to attend treatment programs that were not legitimate PHPs. ATC and ASI then billed Medicare for the medically unnecessary services. According to court filings, to obtain the cash required to support the kickbacks, the co-conspirators laundered millions of dollars of payments from Medicare.

ATC, Medlink and various owners, managers, doctors, therapists, patient brokers and marketers of ATC, Medlink and ASI, were charged with various health care fraud, kickback, money laundering and other offenses in two indictments unsealed on Feb. 15, 2011. ATC, Medlink and 10 of the individual defendants have pleaded guilty or have been convicted at trial. Other defendants are scheduled for trial April 9, 2012, before Judge Seitz. A defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Today’s sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; John V. Gillies, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Miami field office; and Special Agent-in-Charge Christopher Dennis of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami office.

The criminal case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Jennifer L. Saulino and Steven Kim of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. A related civil action is being handled by Vanessa I. Reed and Carolyn B. Tapie of the Civil Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ted L. Radway of the Southern District of Florida. The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,160 defendants that collectively have billed the Medicare program for more than $2.9 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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