Texas Medical Supply Medical Supply Company Owner Convicted Of Violating Anti-Kickback Statute Could Get 5 Years

The owner of a Weslaco, Texas-area medical supply and diagnostic testing company faces sentencing on  July 25, 2012 to five years in federal prison without parole and a $250,000 fine after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the federal anti-kickback statute.  The successful prosecution of  Jose “Joe” Trevino is the latest in a growing list of criminal prosecutions and convictions by Federal officials under the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute.

The Anti-Kickback Statute

The Federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits individuals and entities from knowingly and willfully paying or offering to pay, as well as soliciting or receiving, remuneration (money or other things of value) in return for the referral of patients for medical services or items which are benefits under a federal health care program, such as Medicare or Medicaid.  Violation of the Statute is a felony offense.

Trevino Conviction

Trevino pleaded guilty on April 24, 2012 to a one-count criminal information charging conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback statute.  According to information presented by the United States at the April 24th hearing, Trevino is the owner of Med-Quick Diagnostics, a medical supply and diagnostic testing facility in Weslaco, Texas. From approximately September 2009 through April 2011, Federal officials charged that Trevino authorized thousands of dollars in illegal kickback payments to an area marketer, Alicia Vasquez, in exchange for Vasquez’s referrals of many Medicare and Medicaid patients to Med-Quick. Trevino paid the kickbacks to Vasquez through a third-party – referred to in the criminal information as “Person A.” The kickbacks were deposited into Person A’s bank account, from where the money was later diverted to Vasquez. Med-Quick subsequently billed Medicare and Medicaid hundreds of thousands of dollars for patients that were illegally referred by Vasquez.

Vasquez previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing.

Other Federal Anti-Kickback Statute Enforcement

The Trevino conviction is the latest in a growing list of Anti-Kickback Statute prosecutions. Federal enforcement of the Anti-Kickback Statute has increased.   On April 19, 2012, for example, Federal prosecutors in Houston charged  Floyd Leslie Brooks and Gwendolyn Kay Frank with conspiracy to violation the Anti-Kickback Statute in relation to the massive health care fraud conspiracy that allegedly billed the Medicare and Medicaid programs for more than $45 million.

That action followed the  April 9, 2012 guilty plea of former Orthofix vice president of sales Thomas P. Guerrieri to violating the Anti-Kickback Statute in connection with the sale of bone growth stimulators. His sentencing is scheduled for July 11, 2012. He faces up to five years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine and forfeiture.   See also,  Nine Health Care Professionals, Including Five Doctors, Charged In Kickback Scheme.

Health Care Providers Must Act To Manage Risks

In response to the growing emphasis and effectiveness of Federal officials in investigating and taking action against health care providers and organizations, health care providers covered by federal false claims, referral, kickback and other health care fraud laws should consider auditing the adequacy of existing practices, tightening training, oversight and controls on billing and other regulated conduct, reaffirming their commitment to compliance to workforce members and constituents and taking other appropriate steps to help prevent, detect and timely redress health care fraud exposures within their organization and to position their organization to respond and defend against potential investigations or charges.

For More Information Or Assistance

If you need assistance reviewing or responding to these or other health care related risk management, compliance, enforcement or management concerns, the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, may be able to help. Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 24 years experience advising health industry clients about these and other matters. Her experience includes advising hospitals, nursing home, home health, rehabilitation and other health care providers and health industry clients to establish and administer compliance and risk management policies; prevent, conduct and investigate, and respond to peer review and other quality concerns; and to respond to Board of Medicine, Department of Aging & Disability, Drug Enforcement Agency, OCR Privacy and Civil Rights, HHS, DOD and other health care industry investigation, enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management concerns.

A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer continuously advises health industry clients about compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational matters. Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health and managed care industry regulatory, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, public policy, reimbursement and other operations and risk management concerns. Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications.  You can get more information about her health industry experience here. If you need assistance responding to concerns about the matters discussed in this publication or other health care concerns, wish to obtain information about arranging for training or presentations by Ms. Stamer, wish to suggest a topic for a future program or update, or wish to request other information or materials, please contact Ms. Stamer via telephone at (214) 452-8297 or via e-mail here.

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns from Ms. Stamer, see here.

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THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMER IS INCLUDED TO COMPLY WITH AND IN RESPONSE TO U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR 230 REGULATIONS.  ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN BY THE WRITER TO BE USED, AND NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN CAN BE USED BY YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (1) AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW, OR (2) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TAX-RELATED TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED HEREIN.

©2012 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C. Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.

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