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Aug. 12, 2010

FORMER HOME HEALTH CARE NURSE INDICTED FOR MAKING FALSE STATEMENTS

(McALLEN, Texas) - A federal grand jury has indicted Veronica DeLeon, of Weslaco, Texas, for making false statements relating to health care matters, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. DeLeon, 33, surrendered this morning to the U.S. Marshals Service following the return of the indictment on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010.

According to the nine-count indictment, from September 2008 through July 2009, DeLeon was employed as a licensed vocational nurse by D’Oro Home Health Services, of Weslaco, Texas. During this time, DeLeon’s duties included visiting homebound Medicare beneficiaries for a variety of medical problems associated with diabetes. For each beneficiary visit, DeLeon was required by Medicare regulations to fill out a patient encounter form, also referred to as “Home Care Skilled Nurse Note,” detailing the beneficiary’s current health status and the services that were provided to the beneficiary during the visit. In turn, DeLeon would submit the encounter form to D’Oro to update the beneficiary’s medical file and to submit a claim for reimbursement to Medicare for the services. DeLeon would receive financial compensation from D’Oro for each encounter form she submitted.

During the indictment period, rather than visit the homebound beneficiaries at the scheduled time, DeLeon is alleged to have falsified and forged approximately 375 encounter forms involving more than 50 Medicare beneficiaries which she later submitted to D’Oro for compensation. DeLeon allegedly falsified the entire form including, but not limited to, the areas dealing with the beneficiary’s blood pressure, pulse rate, temperature, weight, cardiac and respiratory status, homebound status and the medical supplies she purportedly used during the visit. DeLeon also allegedly forged beneficiary signatures at the bottom of the forms. Upon receiving the allegedly falsified forms, D’Oro submitted thousands of dollars in claims to Medicare for reimbursement for skilled nursing services that were, in fact, never provided to the beneficiaries as represented by DeLeon on the forms.

DeLeon made her  initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos this morning. Judge Ramos granted DeLeon bond but imposed a special condition prohibiting her from serving as a nurse during the pendency of the case. DeLeon will next appear in federal court on Aug. 17, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. for an arraignment.

If convicted, DeLeon faces up to five years in federal prison without parole and a $250,000 criminal fine for each of the nine counts charged in the indictment.

The continuing investigation is being conducted by special agents of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Gregory S. Saikin is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted.

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