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Press Release

Mother and Daughter Sentenced for Defrauding the United States in Health Care Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

HOUSTON – Two Houston area women have been sentenced following their convictions related to a scheme in which Medicare and Medicaid were billed for ambulance services that were not provided, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Erika Moscarro, 37, of Houston, and Maria Vasquez, 59, of Cypress, pleaded guilty on Sept. 22, 2014, and Jan. 22, 2015, respectively.

Today, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller sentenced Vasquez. At the hearing, she apologized to the court and asked for a sentence of less than a year in prison. Judge Miller ultimately imposed a 57-month sentence and further ordered her to pay $587,288 in restitution. Her daughter – Moscarro – was sentenced previously to a 12-month-term of imprisonment. Both will also serve three years of supervised release following completion of their prison terms.

Vasquez was the operator of Optimum Care EMS, a business which provided ambulance transport to patients on Medicare and Medicaid. Between January 2008 and December 2010, Optimum Care EMS received payments from Medicaid and Medicare for ambulance transport services which were not actually provided. Specifically, Vasquez and her daughter provided patients with transportation via van or car. However, they actually billed Medicare and Medicaid for ambulance transportation with basic life support, which resulted in larger payments.

As a result of the scheme, Medicare and Medicaid incurred a loss of more than $500,000.

Vasquez was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The charges were the result of an investigation conducted by the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney James McAlister prosecuted the case.

Updated December 18, 2015

Health Care Fraud