Brownsville Women Arrested in State and Federal Health Care Fraud Probe
The following is a news release issued on July 28, 2011, by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas:
Brownsville Residents Charged With Health Care Fraud
McALLEN, Texas - Felicitas Velez Alanis, 50, and her daughter-in-law Erika Ortega Alanis, 26, both of Brownsville, Texas, have been arrested on charges of health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud, United States Attorney Jos Angel Moreno announced today along with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
A McAllen grand jury returned a six-count sealed indictment on July 26, 2011, charging Felicitas Alanis and Erika Alanis with one count of conspiracy to defraud the Texas Medicaid program and five counts of submitting false and fraudulent claims to the Texas Medicaid program. The indictment was unsealed today after the pair was taken into custody by federal and state authorities this morning. Both are expected to make their initial appearances before a United States Magistrate Judge in Brownsville tomorrow morning.
Felicitas Alanis allegedly owns and operates Vel-Ala Inc. - a Texas corporation which does business as Nisi Medical Equipment and Supply in and around Brownsville and Harlingen, Texas, and elsewhere in South Texas. Her daughter-in-law, Erika Alanis, allegedly assisted in the day to day operation of the company. Nisi Medical Equipment and Supply is enrolled with the Texas Medicaid program to provide durable medical equipment (DME) to Texas Medicaid beneficiaries. The term DME means medical equipment and supplies used in the home and includes blood-testing strips, blood glucose monitors, alcohol wipes, diabetic supplies and other medically necessary items.
The six-count indictment alleges Felicitas Alanis and Ericka Alanis conspired to send false and fraudulent bills to the Texas Medicaid program in the name of Nisi Medical Equipment and Supply. The indictment also alleges that between on or about Jan. 1, 2005, through on or about Oct. 12, 2006, the women submitted more than $646,000 in false and fraudulent bills to the Texas Medicaid program for diabetic supplies which Nisi Medical Equipment and Supply never purchased or supplied to Medicaid beneficiaries. The delivery records and billing records of Nisi Medical Equipment and Supply show that the Texas Medicaid program was routinely billed for more items than were actually delivered and the purchase records allegedly reveal that the Texas Medicaid program was billed for medical supplies and items that Nisi Medical Equipment and Supply had never purchased. Medicaid paid more than $554,000 on the allegedly false and fraudulent claims submitted to it.
Each of the six counts of the Indictment carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine plus up to three years of post prison supervised release in addition to restitution.
The investigation leading to the charges in this case was conducted by the FBI and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Casey N. MacDonald and Special Assistant United States Attorney Rex G. Beasley are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.