Five RGV Residents Charged With Medicare Fraud and Illegal Kickbacks
McALLEN, Texas – Five local residents have been charged following an operation conducted by the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) health care fraud task force targeting Medicare fraud and the payment of illegal kickbacks, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.
Brenda de la Cruz, 39, and Francisco Rangel, 59, both of Mission; Sonia Garcia, 51, of McAllen; Aurora de la Garza, 54, of Harlingen; and Luis Manuel Garza, 39, of Brownsville, are all charged in separate, but similar criminal informations.
According to the charging documents, each of the five individuals engaged in conspiracies to refer Medicare beneficiaries to a home health agency in exchange for illegal kickback payments. In many instances, the referred Medicare beneficiaries allegedly did not need or qualify for home health services, resulting in the submission of fraudulent claims to Medicare, according to the charges.
Conspiracy to commit health care fraud, carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 maximum fine. Conspiracy to make or receive illegal kickbacks carries a possible five-year prison term and a maximum $25,000 fine, upon conviction.
The FBI, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services‐Office of Inspector General, Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission-Office of the Inspector General conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Swartz and Michael Day are prosecuting the cases.
A criminal information is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.