Five RGV residents charged with Medicare fraud, illegal kickbacks

    McALLEN — Five Valley residents have been charged with Medicare fraud and the payment of illegal kickbacks.

    McALLEN — Five Valley residents have been charged with Medicare fraud and the payment of illegal kickbacks.

    The charges come following an operation conducted by the Rio Grande Valley healthcare fraud task force targeting Medicare fraud and the payment of illegal kickbacks, acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez said in a news release.

    Brenda de la Cruz, 39, and Francisco Rangel, 59, both of Mission; Sonia Garcia, 51, of McAllen; Aurora de la Garza, 54, of Harlingen; and Luis Manuel Garza, 39, of Brownsville, are all charged in separate, but similar criminal indictments.

    According to the charging documents, each of the five individuals engaged in conspiracies to refer Medicare beneficiaries to a home health agency in exchange for illegal kickback payments. In many instances, the referred Medicare beneficiaries allegedly did not need or qualify for home health services, resulting in the submission of fraudulent claims to Medicare, according to the charges.

    Conspiracy to commit health care fraud, carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 maximum fine. Conspiracy to make or receive illegal kickbacks carries a possible five-year prison term and a maximum $25,000 fine, upon conviction.