Saturday, January 11, 2014

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Mission Man Indicted for Health Care Fraud in State and Federal Probe

The following news release was issued by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas on Jan. 10, 2014:

McAllen Area Ambulance Company Owner Charged with Multiple Health Care Fraud Allegations

McALLEN – The owner of a McAllen area ambulance transportation company has turned himself into federal authorities following the return of a federal indictment alleging a scheme to defraud Medicare and Texas Medicaid through fraudulent billings, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Victor Gonzalez, 26, of Mission, was charged in a sealed indictment, returned Jan. 8, 2014. The nine-count indictment was unsealed as he surrendered this morning. He made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby today, at which time he was ordered into custody pending a detention hearing set for Jan. 15, 2014, at 9:00 a.m.

Gonzalez, the owner of Vic’s Texas Transport Inc. (dba Victory EMS), is charged with five counts of health care fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of mail fraud.  

The indictment alleges that from December 2010 to February 2013, Gonzalez submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and Texas Medicaid for ambulance transportation services in the McAllen area that were not provided. In the submission of false and fraudulent billings, Gonzalez also allegedly stole the identity of a beneficiary.

According to allegations in the indictment, Gonzalez sent or caused others to send approximately 621 false and fraudulent claims totaling approximately $545,054 to Medicare and Texas Medicaid for ambulance transportation services. The billings were allegedly false and fraudulent because none of the patients were transported by ambulance as claimed, according to the indictment. As a result of the claims, Medicare and Texas Medicaid allegedly paid out $339,730.26.  

The indictment also alleges that to conceal his fraud, phony ambulance transportation records were created, and Gonzalez illegally used the identities of patients on his unlawful billings. 

Each of the five counts of health care fraud carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in federal prison upon conviction, while mail fraud carries a maximum punishment of 20 years. Both convicted also carry as possible punishment a $250,000 fine. If convicted of aggravated identity theft, Gonzalez will be ordered to serve a mandatory, additional two?year prison term which must be served consecutive to any other prison sentence imposed.

The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services?Office of Inspector General and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Special Assistant United States Attorney Michael Day is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is an accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.

A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.