The U.S. Department of Justice announced on May 14, 2018 that a 61-year-old physician based in the McAllen, Texas area has been charged in an indictment for his role in a $240 million health care fraud and international money laundering scheme. The seven-count indictment includes one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, five counts of health care fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The indictment alleges that since 2000, the Texas physician and his co-conspirators falsely diagnosed vulnerable patients, including the young, elderly and disabled, with various degenerative diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis. He and his co-conspirators then allegedly administered chemotherapy and other toxic medications to the patients based on that false diagnosis. The indictment further charges that the physician and his co-conspirators conducted a battery of fraudulent, repetitive, and excessive medical procedures on patients in order to increase revenue and fund his lavish and opulent lifestyle.
The indictment charges that the physcian and his co-conspirators obstructed investigations by causing the creation of false and fictitious patient records, and concealed thousands of medical records from Medicare by stashing them in an unsecured and dilapidated barn located in the Rio Grande Valley.
The indictment alleges that the physician and his co-conspirators transferred the proceeds derived from the conspiracy to purchase private jets, luxury vehicles, clothing from high-end retailers such as Louis Vuitton, and exclusive real estate located throughout the United States and Mexico. The indictment states that the physician and his co-conspirators flew in the physician’s million-dollar private jet or drove in his Maserati, which were both emblazoned with his initials, between his offices in the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio in order to perpetuate the fraud.
Money Laundering Allegations
The indictment alleges that the physician and his co-conspirators laundered the proceeds of their fraud scheme by dissipating, transforming and concealing the source and location of the fraud proceeds by investing such proceeds in commercial and residential real estate in the United States and Mexico. Among other properties, he and his co-conspirators allegedly acquired two penthouses in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; a condominium in Aspen, Colorado; a condominium in Punta Mita, Mexico; and multiple homes and commercial properties located throughout Texas. The physician then allegedly created the false appearance of legitimate wealth and income by renting the various commercial and residential properties that he acquired to individuals and entities. The indictment alleges that the physician and his co-conspirators laundered the proceeds through a casa de cambio, or money exchange house, to various accounts maintained by financial institutions in Mexico.
The Department of Justice’s press release cautions that an indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
If you have information regarding false claims having been submitted to Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, other federal health care programs, or to other federal agencies/programs, and the information is not publically known and no actions have been taken by the government with regard to recovering the false claims, you should promptly consult with a False Claims Act attorney (also known as qui tam attorneys) in your U.S. state who may investigate the basis of your False Claims Act allegations and who may also assist you in bringing a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the United States, if appropriate, for which you may be entitled to receive a portion of the recovery received by the U.S. government.
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