58 Texans arrested in statewide health care fraud investigations

Federal prosecutors say 58 people across the state have been charged with assorted health care fraud that’s been blamed for $66 million in losses and unlawful distribution of opioids.

The Justice Department on Wednesday announced that the individual cases include 20 people charged with diverting opioids. Prosecutors say the investigation also involves alleged Medicare and Medicaid fraud, plus individuals operating pill mill clinics.

The crackdown includes 16 doctors or other medical professionals.  Some charged are doctors, pharmacy owners and sales reps. They include some health professionals in North Texas.

Nearly two dozen of the 58 people charged from across the state were in North Texas. Among the North Texas cases, there were money laundering allegations and allegations of insurance fraud.

There were also many arrests across the state in the ongoing effort to curb the opioid crisis.

“If you are engaging in this behavior, we can see you,” warned Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski. “We are going to find you, and we will prosecute you.”

The takedown uncovered fraud schemes all over Texas finding what U.S. attorneys call dirty doctors, pharmacy owners and more.

“Healthcare should revolve around the patients and their interests and not the providers’ self-interests,” said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox.

The United States Department of Justice say suspects created schemes to fraudulently bill insurance companies. The DOJ alleges two doctors from Fort Worth and Arlington defrauded TRICARE, a program for veterans and their families.

“These two doctors allegedly sought to enrich themselves at the expense of those who lay their lives on the line for our country,” Benczkowski said.

The multi-agency takedown involved the DEA, FBI and other agencies. They also focused on the opioid crisis and shut down pill mills arresting 16 doctors and medical professionals.

Authorities say this is just the beginning of more similar task forces and busts.

“You are not invisible,” Benczkowski said. “Our ability to detect, prosecute and prevent crimes grows more sophisticated.”

One of the 58 charged has already entered a plea deal that includes 30 months in federal prison and a nearly $800,000 fine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.