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    Physician admits patient brokering

    The South Florida doctor owned companies that received fees for getting addicts and psychiatric patients into treatment centers.

    By JEFF TESTERMAN

    © St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000


    TAMPA -- Dr. Richard Tyson, a prominent South Florida physician involved in a multimillion-dollar patient brokering network, entered a formal plea of guilty Tuesday to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the federal government.

    Tyson, 55, of Fort Lauderdale admitted his part in owning several companies that brokered addicts and psychiatric patients into treatment centers at prices as high as $200 a day.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Montilla, who has charged more than 50 people with illegal patient brokering in a six-year investigation, told a federal magistrate the conspiracy involved "hundreds of co-conspirators and thousands of overt acts" involving patients illegally placed into treatment.

    Court documents indicate that in the early 1990s Tyson set up several lucrative brokering deals with William Demaria Jr., a New Jersey businessman with organized crime ties whom prosecutors regard as the kingpin of the patient brokering network.

    In one such arrangement, Tyson and other investors put together a patient brokering contract at the Manors hospital in Tarpon Springs that paid Demaria's CareOptions company $195,000 a month to keep beds filled, according to court documents. The deal was set up so Demaria could pay kickbacks to the Manors from patient brokering profits. Prosecutors say the Manors paid CareOptions more than $1.7-million.

    As part of a plea agreement, Tyson faces as much as five years in prison. He has also agreed to pay fines and restitution totaling $1.5-million to the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration.

    Two other men accused in the patient brokering scandal made appearances Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Tampa.

    Richard Jason Scura, a California man who was an out-of-work actor when he turned to brokering, pleaded guilty to a single count of receiving remuneration for the referral of a Medicare patient. Scura acknowledged being placed on Demaria's CareOptions payroll as a broker and collecting $2,000 a month for patient referrals from a company called National Outreach.

    At least one Medicare patient referred by Scura ended up at the Manors.

    Tennessee resident Lanny Charles Richardson was arraigned after being indicted on five counts of accepting money for referral of Medicare patients. Court documents list five instances in which Richardson allegedly took $3,000 for brokering five patients into treatment for CareOptions.

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