Courts & Crime

South Florida psychiatrist pleads guilty to massive Medicare fraud

South Florida psychiatrist Alan Gumer got in near the start of the nation’s largest mental-health clinic racket in 2004, signing bogus medical evaluations to qualify patients for costly group therapy sessions covered by Medicare.

“At times,’’ Gumer also “prescribed psychiatric medications to individuals who did not need them to make it appear to Medicare that the patients’’ qualified for treatment, according to federal court documents.

On Thursday, Gumer, 64, of Tamarac pleaded guilty to Medicare fraud for his critical role in a massive, $200 million scheme. The racket enabled Miami-based American Therapeutic Corp. to bill the government program for psychotherapy that was unnecessary for thousands of patients who faked suffering from depression, schizophrenia or bipolar conditions.

Justice Department lawyer Jennifer Saulino said Gumer was responsible for $19.3 million in false claims filed on behalf of the patients, who were paid kickbacks by the American Therapeutic chain of South Florida clinics. Asked by U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz why he pleaded guilty, Gumer said: “It’s the right thing to do.”

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