Miami Herald

Judge sends therapist to prison for 35 years in massive Medicare-fraud case
By Jay Weaver

A convicted therapist whom prosecutors described as the public “face” of a Miami-based mental-health company that bilked Medicare was sentenced to a staggering 35 years in prison.

A federal judge Monday issued another lengthy sentence in the nation’s biggest mental-health fraud case, sending a Miami therapist to prison for 35 years.

The sentencing of Marianella Valera, 40, came only days after the same judge sent her 49-year-old boyfriend, Lawrence Duran, to prison for 50 years. The pair ran Miami-based American Therapeutic Corp, which prosecutors say defrauded the taxpayer-funded Medicare program of more than $200 million.

In both criminal cases, U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King gave out the longest prison sentences ever for a Medicare-fraud offender. Previously, the longest sentence was a 30-year term imposed in 2008 on a Miami physician convicted in an HIV-therapy scam.

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