Seven accused of playing role in $ 110 million drug program
McALLEN, Texas – Seven people have been charged in connection with healthcare fraud and a multi-million dollar bribe scheme.
Federal grand jury returned 15-count indictment charging all seven with conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, healthcare fraud, conspiracy to pay and receive illegal bribery and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
John Ageudo Rodriguez, 51, Mohammad Imtiaz Chowdhury, 40, his father, Dr Tajul Shams Chowdhury, 71, and Alex Flores Jr., 51, all from McAllen; Hector DeLaCruz, 50, Jr. from Edinburgh; Araceli Gaona, 35, from Mission; and Erika Hernandez Salinas de Donna, 38, have all been charged with their participation in the scheme.
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The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Rodriguez was the owner of Pharr Family Pharmacy, which from May 2014 to September 2016 allegedly billed various federal health care programs over $ 110 million, including false, fraudulent claims. and the result of illegal bribes.
According to the indictment, Mohammad Chowdhury, Flores and DeLaCruz were purported traders for the pharmacy who were the conduits of multi-million dollar bribes linked to sending prescriptions for very expensive compound drugs to the pharmacy. In many cases, traders reportedly received bribes from Rodriguez, which they shared with referring doctors.
Dr Chowdhury, a doctor at the Center for Pain Management in Edinburgh, is said to have paid bribes to his father for sending prescriptions to the pharmacy, including prescriptions for high reimbursement compound drugs that are not medically necessary or what the patients wanted.
Gaona and Salinas, employees of the firm, are charged with conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks and conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with their alleged receipt of kickbacks to help coordinate the flow of kickbacks. prescriptions from the medical clinic to the pharmacy.
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The indictment alleges that Rodriguez and his co-conspirators also targeted specific health care benefit programs known to pay high reimbursements for compound drugs, such as the federal employee compensation program, TRICARE, Medicare and various private insurance plans.
As part of the program, Rodriguez reportedly provided merchants with pre-filled prescription pads for distribution to doctors. The charges allege that these are compound drugs and other prescription items that would give the highest possible reimbursement regardless of medical necessity.
If convicted of healthcare fraud and conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, they face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $ 250,000. The penalty for conspiring to pay and receive illegal bribes is five years with a maximum fine of $ 25,000. Those accused and convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $ 500,000.