Monday, April 7, 2008

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Harris County Dentist Pleads Guilty to Medicaid Billing Scheme

HOUSTON – A Spring dentist has pleaded guilty to organizing a scheme that defrauded the Medicaid program. Vu Tuan Tran, 40, admitted to theft by a governmental contractor after illegally billing and receiving reimbursements from the government health care program for services not rendered.

Tran received two years deferred adjudication and will be required to pay back nearly $24,000 he received from the Medicaid program for pediatric dental work he never performed. Tran must also perform 240 hours of community service.."

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Vu Tran

“This defendant pleaded guilty to billing the taxpayers for services not rendered,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said. “Texans will not tolerate illegal schemes that defraud taxpayers. The Office of the Attorney General will continue aggressively cracking down on fraud in the Medicaid program.”

Tran, the owner of Dental Concerns in Spring, billed Medicaid for a variety of services to young children that he never provided. Between November 2002 and December 2005 Tran received $1.15 million in Medicaid payments. Of that amount, Tran admitted that almost $24,000 were based on fraudulent billings. During the office visits linked to the fraudulent billings, Tran merely inspected children’s mouths, advised parents on proper brushing techniques and provided information about bottle feeding. However, he billed Medicaid for more expensive dental services, including sedation, fluoride and sealants.

At the time of his indictment and arrest, Tran was charged with second-degree felony theft by a governmental contractor. Attorney General Abbott’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigators arrested Tran last October after a grand jury returned indictments against him.

In 2006 alone, the Texas Medicaid program cost more than $17 billion. As the state’s chief law enforcement official, Attorney General Abbott has dramatically expanded the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to save taxpayer dollars by rooting out waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicaid system.

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.