McAllen woman charged in multi-million dollar kickback conspiracy

A McAllen woman was charged for her role in a multi-million dollar illegal kickback conspiracy involving a Rio Grande Valley pharmacy and doctors throughout Texas, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick’s office.

Victoria Renee Guerra, 35, of McAllen, made her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Scott Hacker Wednesday morning.

According to the release, Guerra is a licensed pharmacist and worked as a marketer for a pharmacy. In her role as a marketer, Guerra allegedly recruited physicians to write prescriptions for expensive compound drugs to be filled by her pharmacy, who would then bill federal health care programs.

During an approximately two-year period starting in late 2014, the owner of the pharmacy paid Guerra roughly $7.5 million in return for compound drug prescriptions written by physicians that Guerra recruited. Guerra allegedly paid a cut of the payments from the pharmacy to the prescribing physicians. The complaint alleges Guerra paid approximately $2.1 million in kickbacks to just a physician for sending prescriptions to the pharmacy.

During the conspiracy, the pharmacy submitted claims totaling approximately $42.2 million to the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Workers Compensation Program, for prescriptions that a doctor had written for beneficiaries of the Federal Employee’s Compensation Act, according the charges.

The U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General, Department of Labor, FBI, Veterans Affairs, Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Swartz is prosecuting the case.

Guerra is charged with conspiracy to violate the federal anti-kickback statute, which prohibits the payment of kickbacks to induce physicians to write prescriptions, for which payment may be made in whole or in part under a federal health care benefit program. If convicted, Guerra faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $25,000 maximum fine.