McAllen woman faces conspiracy charge in kickback investigation

McALLEN — A woman here is accused of taking and accepting bribes and kickbacks in part to give access to patients at adult day care facilities.

Claudia Haro, 44, made her initial appearance in federal court Thursday to formally hear the charges against her — a day after federal agents arrested her in connection with an investigation into a conspiracy to pay kickbacks to physicians and marketers in exchange for referrals of clients using Medicare and Medicaid.

The indictment against Haro, handed down on Oct. 9, and unsealed Wednesday, claims Haro allegedly engaged in a conspiracy from 2011 through 2016, along with co-conspirators, paying kickbacks to physicians and various other individuals in exchange for beneficiary referral and certification and for services and supplies billed to Medicare and Medicaid.

According to the indictment, Haro delivered cash payments in return for the referral of beneficiaries to home health agencies and other providers with whom Haro was associated.

The agencies named in the indictment, which provided healthcare services and products, such as home health, durable medical equipment, and adult day care facilities, primarily directed to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries: A New Hope Health Care, Una Nueva Esperanza Adult Day Care, Golden Angels of Hope Health Care, and El Rosario Adult Day Care, all located in Mission.

The indictment alleges that between 2010 and 2017 Haro was an employee of one or more of these agencies.

Haro is accused of conspiring with others not yet named in the indictment to give kickbacks and bribes — directly and indirectly — in return for referring clients to home health services that would be paid by federal and state healthcare programs.

“It was a purpose of the conspiracy for (Haro) and her co-conspirators to unlawfully enrich themselves by offering and paying kickbacks and bribes in exchange for referral of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries for whom one or more of the E.P. Entities submitted claims to Medicare and Medicaid,” the indictment stated.

Essentially Haro and her co-conspirators allegedly provided physicians and other medical practitioners access to patients at adult day care facilities in return for certifying beneficiaries for services and supplies for which the E.P. Entities would submit claims to Medicare and Medicaid.

As part of the scheme, Haro allegedly paid people in return for the aforementioned patient referrals, including physicians for their certification of beneficiaries for services and supplies, the court record shows.

The government also outlines several instances of “overt acts,” allegedly committed by Haro and her co-conspirators, including a period between January 2011 to August 2013, “physician E.M.” was provided with access to patients at adult day care facilities in return for certifying Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries for services and supplies through one or more of the agencies.

Another one of the outlined over acts, includes a period of roughly three years where a physician was paid between $54,000 and $108,000 for the certification.

“From in or around 2013 to in or around 2016, Physician P.G., was paid amounts ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 per month, to certify beneficiaries for the provision of services and supplies through one or more of the E.P. Entities,” the indictment stated.

Haro also faces one count of giving a false statement to a federal agent when she spoke to them May 4, 2017, in connection with the investigation.

“…Haro stated she never personally paid kickbacks to anyone on behalf of E.P.,” the document stated.

If convicted of any of the charges, she faces up to five years in prison.

In addition to the prison time she faces, Haro, could also be required to pay back restitution.