Texas dentists indicted for Medicaid fraud

An oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Texas and two of his employees have been indicted by the state attorney general (AG) on 22 counts of healthcare fraud and a Medicaid kickback scheme.

Gary Morgan Schwarz, D.D.S., the owner of Valley Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in McAllen, is accused of conspiring with Renee L. Thornton, his office manager, and Magdalena Garza Cazares, his treatment coordinator and personal assistant, of filing fraudulent Medicaid claims from January 2007 through April 2010, the AG's office said.

All three were arrested on June 22, U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a news release.

Dr. Schwarz is also charged with nine counts of healthcare fraud, alleging he submitted claims to Medicaid for payment for services not performed, examinations not performed by him personally, services provided by unqualified persons (including the administration of anesthesia), and Medicare beneficiaries unlawfully referred to him.

Two other dentists allegedly involved with Dr. Schwarz in a related kickback scheme -- Willis David Egger, D.D.S., of McAllen, and Reynaldo Casares D.D.S., of Mission -- were also arrested. They were charged with multiple counts of illegally referring Medicaid beneficiaries to Dr. Schwarz in exchange for 15% of the total payment made by Medicaid to Dr. Schwarz for all referred beneficiaries.

All five defendants have appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos and have been ordered released upon posting a $100,000 unsecured bond, the AG's office said. Drs. Schwarz, Egger, and Casares are prohibited from treating Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries as a condition of their release, at least until a July 7, 2010, hearing.

Dr. Schwarz, Thornton, and Cazares face up to 10 years in prison without parole and up to a $250,000 fine if convicted of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and/or any substantive healthcare fraud counts. Drs. Egger and Casares each face a maximum punishment of up to five years in prison and a fine not to exceed $25,000 for violating the kickback statute if convicted.

Four other Rio Grande Valley dentists were charged in the same indictment for soliciting and receiving kickback payments from Dr. Schwarz for referring Medicaid beneficiaries to him in a related scheme, the AG's office said.

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