Wednesday, January 9, 2008

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Hidalgo County Man Pleads Guilty to Other Charges After Getting 27 Year Sentence in November

McALLEN – A Hidalgo County licensed professional counselor pleaded guilty to charges of theft over $20,000. The guilty plea is connected with a 27-year prison sentence the defendant received last November after acknowledging that he sexually abused his patients.

Sigifredo Flores, 52, of Progreso Lakes was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison, which will run concurrently with his original sentence. The charge is tied to a scheme that began in June 2004. Flores billed Medicaid for mental health counseling sessions that never occurred. Texas Attorney General Abbott’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigated the entire case.

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Sigifredo Flores
Sigifredo Flores

“This defendant sexually assaulted his counseling patients and billed the taxpayers for his time,” said Attorney General Abbott. “He also conducted a false billing scheme that charged Medicaid for services not rendered. We will continue to aggressively prosecute professionals who abuse their Medicaid patients.”

Under the most recent guilty plea, Flores acknowledged that he billed Medicaid for individual counseling sessions, but actually conducted group sessions with three to four patients at a time. The actual duration of the sessions was about 15 minutes, instead of the one-hour sessions he reported to Medicaid in order to receive a larger reimbursement. From June 2004 through June 2005, Medicaid paid Flores over $258,000.

In November, a jury sentenced Flores to 27 years in prison for sexually assaulting counseling patients in his care, including two children. He was convicted on 11 counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual contact, and fined $125,000.

In 2006 alone, Texas spent more than $17 billion on the Medicaid program. To save taxpayer dollars and protect Texas seniors, Attorney General Abbott has dramatically expanded the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

The unit has established field offices in Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, San Antonio and Tyler through authorization and funding from the 78th Legislature. It works with federal, state and local agencies across the state to identify and prosecute those who defraud the Medicaid program.

To obtain more information about the Attorney General’s efforts to fight Medicaid fraud, access the agency’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.