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Jan. 27, 2010

HOUSTON PODIATRIST WITH OFFICES IN PHARR/SAN JUAN PLEADS GUILTY TO HEALTH CARE FRAUD

(McALLEN, Texas) – Franklin Beltre, 39, a licensed podiatrist, has pleaded guilty to committing health care fraud by submitting false and fraudulent claims to both Medicare and Medicaid for services performed by an unlicensed podiatrist, United States Attorney Tim Johnson and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced today.  

Beltre, of Houston, who owned and operated the Valley Medical Foot Care in Pharr/San Juan, Texas, and a similar business in Houston, today pleaded guilty to health care fraud before United States District Judge Randy Crane. At today’s hearing, Beltre admitted to defrauding both Medicaid and Medicare by billing for medical services not rendered by a licensed podiatrist and billings for services he claimed were performed while he was actually vacationing outside Texas. Overall, since August 2004, more than $536,000 was submitted in false and fraudulent claims to both Medicare and Medicaid by Beltre for podiatric services he never performed and that were actually performed by an unlicensed, unsupervised podiatrist. 

Beltre and the unlicensed podiatrist working for him at the Valley Medical Foot Care, Manuela K. Alana, were charged by indictment in September 2009 with multiple counts of health care fraud arising from the scheme to fraudulently bill the two health care programs.

Alana, 40, of Pharr, Texas, pleaded guilty to health care fraud on Dec. 21, 2009, before Judge Crane. She admitted that from April 29, 2006, through May 2006 claims totaling approximately $17,069 were submitted to both Medicare and Medicaid for podiatric services that falsely claimed Beltre had performed the services, when in actuality, Alana – an unlicensed and unsupervised podiatrist – had performed the services.     

Both Alana and Beltre face a maximum punishment of up to 10 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $250,000. Alana is scheduled to be sentenced on March 9, 2010, while Beltre will be sentenced on April 12, 2010, at 2:00 p.m. Alana and Beltre have been permitted to remain on bond pending their sentencing.
 
The investigation leading to the charges in this case was conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the FBI and the Texas Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Ferko is prosecuting the case.

 

 

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