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Owner and Operator of Florida Durable Medical Equipment Company Convicted of Medicare Fraud
Date:8/31/2007

Fourth Trial Conviction For Medicare Strike Force Since March

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The owner and operator of a Florida durable medical equipment company and an assisted living facility has been convicted by a federal jury in Miami of Medicare fraud, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta of the Southern District of Florida announced today.

After a seven-day trial at federal court in Miami, the jury found Marianela Smith guilty yesterday on all charged counts including conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, to submit false claims to Medicare, and to receive kickbacks; conspiracy to commit health care fraud; and three counts of receiving kickbacks in exchange for referring patients to a co-conspirator pharmacy. Smith faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 9, 2007, before Judge Joan A. Lenard of the Southern District of Florida.

Smith owned and operated Smith Medical Equipment, Inc. and M.P. Residence, Inc., providing her access to Medicare patients. At trial, the jury heard evidence that Smith paid kickbacks to physicians to obtain phony prescriptions for compounded aerosol medications, paid kickbacks to patients to accept unnecessary treatments, and received kickbacks from pharmacy owners to refer the false prescriptions.

Specifically, Smith conspired with the owners of Lily's Pharmacy to refer paid patients to the pharmacy in exchange for half of what Medicare paid for "compounded" aerosols. Compounding is the process of a pharmacist making medication as opposed to a pharmaceutical manufacturer. Smith referred at least 48 patients and their Medicare billing information to the owners of Lily's Pharmacy during the course of the conspiracy. Along with those patients, Smith provided phony prescriptions for compounded aerosol medications purchased from local physicians. One of the patients te
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice
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