El Paso Businesswoman Arrested for Health Care Fraud
EL PASO – An El Paso businesswoman and her nephew were arrested today on criminal charges for their alleged roles in committing health care fraud.
According to court documents, Zenia Chavez, 45, and Raul Alejandro Fuentes, 23, of El Paso, conspired together to commit health care fraud. Chavez is the owner and Fuentes is an employee of Nursemind Home Health, Inc. (Nursemind), which provides hospice care services. The defendants sought out people in boarding homes and senior living facilities for enrollment in a Nursemind hospice program although they did not need hospice care or have a terminal illness. The defendants then created false and fraudulent medical records for the individuals, forged health personnel signatures, and submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare. In addition, Chavez is also charged with offering kickbacks for client referrals to Nursemind.
Chavez and Fuentes are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and 14 counts of health care fraud. Chavez is also charged with one count of conspiracy for illegal remunerations regarding a federal health care program and 11 counts of illegal remunerations regarding a federal health care program. If convicted, Chavez and Fuentes face a maximum penalty on each of the health care fraud counts of 10 years in prison. Chavez faces an additional five years in prison on the conspiracy for illegal remunerations charge and 10 years in prison on each of the illegal remuneration counts. A federal district judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff of the Western District of Texas; FBI Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Downey, El Paso Division; and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS OIG) Special Agent in Charge Miranda Bennett made the announcement.
The FBI and HHS OIG are investigating the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chris Skillern and Debra Kanof are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.