published on May 8, 2019 - 1:09 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Two health care professionals are facing fraud charges, according to a news release from the office of Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp.

Smittcamp announced that psychologist Danita Stewards, 51, of Chatworth, and Dr. Catalino Dureza, 54, of La Quinta, have been charged for allegedly submitting fraudulent insurance claims for medical legal evaluations in an attempt to steal tens of millions of dollars from multiple insurers.

Stewart, a licensed psychologist, allegedly submitted 36 fraudulent insurance claims between April and June 2015 to five different insurers for a total of $90,714. Even though Stewart was a licensed psychologist, she has never been certified as a qualified medical examiner as required by law to conduct and bill for medical legal evaluations. These fraudulent evaluations were conducted at clinics in Fresno, Tulare and Kern counties.

Dureza, a licensed medical doctor, had obtained the proper certification to conduct and bill for medical legal evaluations, but his certification lapsed between November 2011 and December 2014. During that time, Dureza allegedly continued to conduct and bill for evaluations, and once he was recertified, he conducted and billed for unauthorized evaluations. Dureza is believed to have submitted 17 fraudulent claims between January 2014 and May 2015.

Stewart was charged with 36 felony counts and Dureza with 17. Their arraignments are scheduled for May 10 and May 20 respectively.

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