Saturday, June 2, 2007

Ex-director of clinic convicted of fraud

Thefts from Medicare alleged

By Sofia Santana
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted June 2 2007

FORT LAUDERDALE · A Tamarac woman who used to be a clinic director has been convicted of being involved in a long-running scheme that siphoned $10 million from Medicare, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Friday.

The conviction is among the latest in a wave of Medicare fraud cases hitting South Florida federal courts this year. Authorities throughout the region have become increasingly aggressive in monitoring doctors, medical supply companies and other medical treatment providers.

A jury found Yvonne May Richards, 59, guilty Wednesday of conspiracy and fraud charges, prosecutors said. She was indicted last year on charges that from 1996 to 2003, she helped steal money from Medicare while working at the now defunct Oakland Community Health Center Inc. The Oakland Park center provided psychiatric evaluations and treatment.

The scheme, investigated mostly by the FBI, included fake bills to Medicare, the creation and forging of fraudulent medical records, and kickbacks to assisted-living facilities that directed their residents to the center, regardless of whether the residents needed treatment, prosecutors said.

Former clinic owners Bernard Graves Jr., 49, and his wife Althea Graves, 37, both of Stuart, and social worker Neil Leder, 50, of Tamarac, also were indicted in the scheme. The trio pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges earlier this year, and each could face up to five years in prison.

Prosecutors said the money went mostly toward the Graves' living expenses, including home décor and nanny pay.

The Graveses and Leder are scheduled to be sentenced within the next two months, and Richards' sentencing date has not yet been set, according to court records.

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