McALLEN, Texas (CN) - The owner of a health care resource center pleaded guilty to taking $70,000 in kickbacks for referring clients to health-care providers, federal prosecutors said.
In a three-count indictment unsealed in January, Alicia Vasquez, 51, of San Juan, Texas was charged with conspiracy and two counts of soliciting and receiving illegal kickbacks, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.
Vasquez referred numerous Medicare and Medicaid patients of her purported health-care resource center, David's Star Loving Vision, to medical equipment companies, physicians and home health-care agencies from September 2009 through April 2011, prosecutors said.
At some point Vasquez went crooked and referred her patients to these providers for at least $70,000 in kickbacks, prosecutors said.
"In turn, the providers billed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Medicare and Medicaid programs as a result of the illegal referrals," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
"Vasquez, and the providers to which she referred the beneficiaries, undertook a variety of measures to conceal Vasquez's involvement with respect to the referrals," prosecutors said in the statement.
"For example, one owner of a DME [durable medical equipment] company paid kickbacks to Vasquez through a third-party - referred to in the indictment as 'Person A.' The kickbacks were deposited into person A's bank account, from where the money was later diverted to Vasquez."
Vasquez pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge Wednesday. She faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 at her May 16 sentencing.
She is free on bond until then.