Las Vegas Dentist and Office Manager Plead Guilty to Submitting over $200,000 in False Dental Work Claims to Local Laborers Union
Las Vegas, Nev. – A Las Vegas dentist and his office manager pleaded guilty this morning to felony health care fraud for submitting false claims to the union's insurance administrator for dental work that was not actually performed, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Mauricio Vargas, 50, and Enoc Adrian Renteria, 33, both of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, a felony. They face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and are scheduled to be sentenced on October 17, 2012, by U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro.
According to the plea agreements, from an unknown date through February 2012, Vargas, a licensed dentist who operated AV Dental in Las Vegas, and Renteria, his office and marketing manager, conspired with an employee of the union's medical/dental insurance administrator, to submit false billing claims to the union. Local 872 is self-insured and contracted with a third party administrator to adjudicate and pay claims on behalf of union members.
AV Dental had previously been barred from submitting claims on behalf of Union members. With Vargas' knowledge, however, Renteria cultivated a relationship with the employee of the union's insurance administrator, and submitted claims to that person for dental work that was not actually performed. The claims were falsely backdated to a point before AV Dental had been barred from submitting claims. Renteria paid bribes to the employee for approving or getting the false claims approved. Vargas deposited $209,406.70 in Union 872 checks into a bank account he owned. The checks represented payment from the union for dental services not actually rendered to union members.
The investigation is being conducted by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Crane M. Pomerantz.
Today's announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys' offices and state and local partners, it's the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.