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Lawyer guilty of Medicare fraud

South Florida attorney Benjamin R. Metsch pleaded guilty today on charges he defrauded Medicare from October 2002 through August 2004, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.

Metsch conspired with another individual, unnamed in the indictment, to facilitate the fraudulent sales of 67 South Florida durable medical equipment companies.

According to the charges, the sales involved ''straw purchasers'' who acted in the place of the true purchasers of the DME companies. This kind of convoluted transaction tends to impede Medicare investigators and prosecutors from quickly tracking down persons committing fraud.

In the plea agreement, Metsch agreed to pay $103,000 restitution to Medicare because his law firm earned $103,000 in the fraudulent transactions.

Metsch faces a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment, according to prosecutors. His sentencing is scheduled for May 18. The case is being prosecuted by David Frank.