A Carrizo Springs doctor with multiple offices throughout the Southwest Texas border area and his office manager face federal charges in connection with alleged illegal drug distribution, Health Care Fraud, and aggravated identity theft scheme, announced U.S. Attorney John F. Bash; Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Will Glaspy, Houston Division; and, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
A 20-count federal grand jury indictment–returned on Wednesday in Del Rio and unsealed today by U.S. District Judge Alia Moses–charges Dr. Alfonso Luevano, age 50, with one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, ten substantive counts of distribution of a controlled substance, one count of conspiracy to commit Health Care Fraud, five substantive counts of Health Care Fraud, and three counts of aggravated identity theft. Ofelia Martinez, a 50-year-old employee of Dr. Luevano and resident of Carrizo Springs, is charged in both conspiracy counts, the five Health Care Fraud counts, and the three aggravated identity theft counts.
As alleged in the indictment, Dr. Luevano regularly provided prescriptions for scheduled controlled substances – including Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, and fentanyl – to patients outside the bounds of accepted medical practice and for no legitimate medical purpose. Dr. Luevano is alleged to have provided these prescriptions after short or perfunctory office visits, and to have issued them without performing the examination necessary to justify the prescription of an opioid pain medication.
The indictment also alleges that Dr. Luevano allowed and instructed nurse practitioners and physician assistants in his employ to provide Schedule II controlled substance prescriptions by pre-signing triplicate prescription forms and leaving them at his various offices to be filled out by his staff. Ms. Moreno is alleged to have assisted in this practice by transporting the pre-signed prescriptions to the offices and instructing the staff on how to fill them out.
Dr. Luevano is also alleged to have committed Health Care Fraud by billing Texas Medicaid for the illegal office visits performed by his medical staff, and by listing himself as the providing practitioner for appointments where he never saw the patient whatsoever. It is also alleged that he defrauded Medicaid on multiple instances by misstating the length of time spent with a patient, as well as the nature of the patient’s diagnosis. Ms. Moreno is alleged to have personally entered and submitted the fraudulent bills for the entire practice, and instructed medical staff to close medical records files in a certain manner so as to conceal their involvement in an appointment.
Federal authorities arrested both defendants Thursday without incident. Both defendants had their initial appearances in federal court in Del Rio on Friday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Victor Garcia released the defendants on $50,000 unsecured bonds pending trial.
“A doctor who prescribes opioids without just cause is no different than a street corner drug dealer distributing narcotics,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Glaspy. “DEA will always pursue these ‘drug dealers in white coats’ who are fueling, our ongoing opioid crisis.”
Upon conviction, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison on the counts related to the distribution of controlled substances and aggravated identity theft, as well as up to ten years in federal prison on the Health Care Fraud counts.
This indictment resulted from a continuing joint investigation by the DEA Prescription Drug Diversion Task Force, DEA Del Rio, and the Texas Attorney General Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin Chung and Paul Harle are prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.
It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.