14 charged with Medicare fraud in North Texas

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by BYRON HARRIS and Associated Press reports

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WFAA and Associated Press reports

Posted on October 4, 2012 at 7:35 PM

DALLAS -- Officials in Washington on Thursday announced law enforcement efforts that led to charges against 91 people nationwide in alleged false billings totaling $429 million. 14 of those 91 people are from North Texas.

Most Medicare fraud requires a doctor's signature to make it appear to be legitimate. Five indictments released Thursday say two local physicians were at the heart of these frauds.

One is Dr. Joseph Megwha, 58, of Arlington, who was arrested last month. Among other things, he's charged with signing stacks of prescriptions without ever seeing the patients.

The other is Dr. Nicholas Padron, who had an office near White Rock Lake in Dallas.

Padron first came onto the radar of Mesquite police for allegedly selling Xanax and Hydrocodone to patients. Padron allegedly wrote more than 9,000 prescriptions over a one-year period. He was arrested this summer, and now is charged with additional crimes of committing fraud through home health care agencies.

In Houston, the president of Riverside General Hospital and his son were also among those accused by federal authorities of taking part in a Medicare fraud scheme. Authorities arrested Earnest Gibson III, son Earnest Gibson IV and five others. The indictments accused the group of participating in a scheme to pay kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in programs that allowed the hospital to bill Medicare for millions.

Twelve other North Texans are charged with a number of crimes in the indictments. The charges range from charging Medicare with services not provided (primarily home health care), with charging for patients who don't exist, and for billing Medicare for equipment, such as motorized wheelchairs and hospital beds, which was not provided or not needed.

All told, the North Texas defendants are charged with more than 25 counts of health care fraud. In Dallas, two doctors and two registered nurses were charged with participating in over $103 million in false billings. Each count of health care fraud carries a ten-year prison sentence.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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