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(55,445 posts)
Thu Mar 12, 2020, 11:00 AM Mar 2020

Commuting the sentence of a Medicare fraudster? An unwise move by President Trump.

Last week, President Trump saw fit to issue a commutation to prolific Medicare fraudster Judith Negron, who had served only 8 years of an appropriate 35-year sentence, handed down in one of the largest Medicare frauds in history. South Florida, the epicenter of health care fraud, each year, has seen countless health care professionals like Negron willfully engage in elaborate schemes to bilk a system created to provide care to millions of elderly Americans.

So while the president certainly has the constitutional authority to pardon, this particular action sends a disturbing message and serves to demean the extraordinary efforts of prosecutors and agents attempting to rein in pervasive fraud that costs taxpayers billions of dollars annually. The president's decision may well even encourage lawlessness in a federal program that can least afford it.

As a federal prosecutor for more than 25 years, I saw the devastating impact of health care fraud and spent a substantial part of my career prosecuting it and training prosecutors how to recognize and attack it. Negron’s scheme was a troubling but important reminder of how law enforcement and the judicial system work in tandem to root out and deter significant health care frauds.

She took advantage of the vulnerable
Over the years, Negron’s company, American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC) used thousands of elderly Alzheimer’s and dementia patients as pawns to overwhelm the system and defraud Medicare of more than $200 million. These elderly victims were mere props in a sophisticated fraud scheme — unwittingly rented for the day from a nearby assisted living facility for a few pieces of silver, $25 to be exact, simply to be abused under the guise of providing a “service” that Medicare would pay for handsomely.

The scheme’s success spawned many copycats, and before long, South Florida had more adults in community mental health “therapy” than New York City and Los Angeles combined. Reimbursements to South Florida clinics were more than half of what Medicare paid to the entire country.


So how much of her laundered money did she funnel to Trump's offshore slush fund?

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