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Oct. 5, 2010

WESLACO NURSE CONVICTED IN HEALTH CARE FRAUD CASE

(McALLEN, Texas) - Veronica DeLeon, of Weslaco, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements relating to health care matters at a hearing in federal court this morning before Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.  

According to information presented in court, DeLeon, 33, was employed by D’Oro Home Health Services as a licensed vocational nurse from September 2008 through July 2009. Her duties included visiting and treating homebound Medicare beneficiaries suffering from a variety of illnesses. For each beneficiary visit, DeLeon was required by Medicare regulations to fill out and submit to D’Oro a patient encounter form detailing the beneficiary’s current health status and the services that were provided during the visit. At this morning’s hearing, DeLeon admitted to falsifying and forging encounter forms involving numerous Medicare beneficiaries, which she later submitted to D’Oro, without ever having seen the beneficiaries.  DeLeon admitted to falsifying the entire form including, but not limited to, the areas dealing with the beneficiary’s blood pressure, pulse rate, temperature, cardiac and respiratory status, homebound status and the medical supplies purportedly used during the visit. DeLeon also admitted to forging beneficiary signatures at the bottom of the forms. D’Oro subsequently used the encounter forms to bill Medicare for thousands of dollars in reimbursement claims for skilled nursing services that were never performed.

Chief Judge Hinojosa has scheduled DeLeon’s sentencing for Jan. 6, 2011, at 9:30 a.m., at which time she faces a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole and a $250,000 criminal fine. DeLeon has been permitted to remain free on bond pending sentencing.

The ongoing 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.

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