Last Friday, in a federal courtroom packed with spectators and family members, a federal judge handed down lengthy prison sentences to three family members who were previously found guilty for their involvement in a multi-million Medicare fraud scheme. Antonio Macli, his son Jorge Macli, and his daughter Sandra Huarte, were all sentenced for their participation in healthcare fraud allegedly being committed at their clinic referred to as Biscayne Milieu. All three defendants appeared with their Miami criminal defense lawyers at the sentencing hearing. The defendants had been previously convicted by a jury in the Southern District of Florida.
U.S. District Judge Robert Scola handed down heavy sentences for the three defendants for running a Medicare fraud scam that received $11 million from the federally funded healthcare system. The patriarch of the family, Antonio Macli, received a thirty year sentence for his actions as the clinic owner. His son, Jorge Macli, received a 25 year sentence for his action s as the company's operating officer. Macli's daughter, Sandra Huarte received a 22 year sentence for her actions as the bookkeeper of the clinic. After Judge Scola pronounced the sentence, he told the defendants that their crime was committed in the healthcare fraud capital and that the scheme was multifaceted and complex. The judge was disturbed by the fact the defendants used vulnerable patients with substance abuse problems to line their own pockets.
In the summer of 2012, the defendants went to trial in an effort to be absolved from a healthcare fraud that billed Medicare an estimated $57 million. The bills submitted to Medicare were for mental health services that were not provided, or were provided, but needed. According to prosecutors, the scam occurred between 2007 and 2011. During that time, the clinic purportedly treated 1,100 patients supposedly diagnosed with mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorders. Five other individuals were convicted at the jury trial, including the clinic's medical director. The 72 year-old psychiatrist from Plantation, Florida received a 12 month prison sentence. Twenty other people were charged for their involvement in the fraud, all of which entered guilty pleas to limit their exposure.
Each of the Miami defense attorneys representing the defendants minimized their client's involvement in the Medicare fraud scheme. Despite the statements made on the defendants' behalf, Judge Scola lowered the boom on all three. After hearing evidence over a two month period, which involved testimony regarding the inner workings of the fraud and the kickbacks that were being paid to patient recruiters, the judge handed down a sentence that could be considered heavy-handed to some. Anyone being investigated by the federal authorities for Medicare fraud or anyone having already arrested charged for Medicare fraud should seek counsel with experience in federal court defending Medicare and healthcare fraud related cases.
3 Miami-Dade Family Members Get Long Prison Terms in Multi-Million Dollar Medicare Fraud Case, Miami Herald.com, April 5, 2013.