Clinic owner gets 22 years in medicare fraud
A Miami man who used his chain of clinics in a Medicare fraud case has been sentenced to 22 years in prison. Michael De Jesus Huarte was sentenced in federal court Wednesday. He pleaded guilty last year to various charges including Medicare fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft. The indictment says Huarte submitted about $100 million in bogus bills for HIV therapy and other services. The fraud expanded to other states, including Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Stumphauzer says the 10-person racket also exploited private insurers that administered the government entitlement program under the Medicare Advantage plan.
Man pleads guilty in couple's slaying
A man has pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in the July home-invasion deaths of a Florida couple known for adopting children with special needs. Thursday's plea by 19-year-old Frederick Thornton Jr. allows him to avoid the death penalty. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Thornton and six other men were charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Byrd and Melanie Billings. A woman has been charged as an accessory. The couple's nine young children — who have varying special needs including Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome and autism — were inside the home when their parents were killed.
Pilot lands plane safely on I-75
A small airplane with two people on board landed on the roadway on Interstate 75. Broward Sheriff Fire-Rescue says the pilot said he had engine issues and had to land the plane. It landed on the southbound side of I-75. Several lanes were closed after the landing, but no damage was reported to any of the vehicles on the road.
Driver, not twin, faces fraud charge
An Avon Park man pulled over for driving under the influence faces fraud charges after reportedly pretending to be his twin brother. The Highlands County Sheriff's Office reports that 43-year-old David Michael Cohen was pulled over Jan. 20 and charged with DUI. But deputies say Cohen initially identified himself as Aaron Michael Cohen and signed that name on his citation and jail forms. Deputies discovered Cohen's real identity the next day. He reportedly told deputies that he used his brother's name because his driver's license was suspended.