Skip to main content
Press Release

Richmond clinic owners agree to settle allegations regarding acupuncture devices

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

HOUSTON – The owners of a Richmond clinic have agreed to pay a total of up to $108,000 to settle allegations they submitted false claims, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani. 

Ijeoma Bethel, 43, Sugar Land, Yvonne Hernandez, 41, Houston, and Nick Bryant Villegas, 43, Pearland, are the owners of Texas Wellness Clinic PLLC in Richmond. Bethel and Villegas are nurse practitioners and Hernandez is a chiropractor. 

From Jan. 27, 2016, to Sept. 16, 2020, Bethel, Villegas, Hernandez and Texas Wellness Clinic billed Medicare for the surgical implantation of neurostimulator electrodes. These are invasive procedures usually requiring the use of an operating room. Medicare pays thousands of dollars per procedure. 

However, the government alleged that no surgery was involved. Instead, patients received devices used for electro-acupuncture, which only involves inserting needles into patients’ ears and taping the neurostimulator behind the ears with an adhesive. 

In addition to the financial settlement, Texas Wellness Clinic agreed to a five-year-period of exclusion from participation in any federal health care programs. 

Campbell Medical Clinic in Houston previously employed Bethel, Villegas and Hernandez before they decided to open Texas Wellness Clinic—where they continued to improperly bill Medicare. The owner of Campbell Medical Clinic, chiropractor Suhyun An, previously agreed to a $2.6 million settlement and a 10-year exclusion from federal health care programs. The claims resolved are allegations only, and there has not been an admission of wrongdoing. 

To date, this is the 11th case the Southern District of Texas has resolved for similar conduct. In addition to the settlement with An, the other matters included settlements with a Katy anesthesiologistHouston pain doctorRockport chiropractorLaredo pain doctorThe Woodlands pain doctor, Cypress marketing representative, Ohio coding consultant, and two separate settlements (linked here and here) with Cypress podiatrists.     

The Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Gray handled the matter. 

The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.

Updated January 16, 2024

Health Care Fraud