Psychiatrist gets 25 years prison for $12 million federal health care fraud

January 9, 2012

An El Paso psychiatrist who bilked the government out of $12 million has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for participating in a health-care billing scheme.

Senior U.S. District Judge David Briones sentenced Dr. Anthony Francis Valdez on Friday.

Valdez has been in custody since his conviction by a federal court jury in July.

Valdez, 57, was also ordered to pay more than $13 million in restitution to Medicaid, Medicare and TRICARE.

He will also forfeit $1.7 million in cash, his homes in El Paso and San Antonio, and five vehicles. Valdez was also fined $9.7 million.

"Valdez preyed on the most vulnerable members of our society -- the poor, the disabled and the elderly. In doing so, he sought to enrich himself by billing health-care entitlement programs," United States Attorney Robert Pitman said.

Valdez is a psychiatrist and owner of the Institute of Pain Management.

He was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health-care fraud, six counts of health-care fraud, six counts of making false statements related to health-care matters and three counts of money laundering.

The Institute of Pain Management had clinics in El Paso and San Antonio.

His license was also taken.

During Valdez's trial, prosecutors alleged that between January 2005 and December 2009, Valdez submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE for procedures that he either didn't perform or that were non-reimbursable.

FBI agents arrested Valdez in June 2010, three years after raiding his office on Zaragoza Road.

At the time of his arrest, federal prosecutors alleged that Valdez fraudulently billed health-care programs almost $42 million for treatments, and that he received about $12.3 million.

"These kind of criminals like Dr. Valdez hurt the very nature of our health-care system by falsely inflating the cost of health care for all of us," said IRS spokesman Agent Mike Lemoine.

"His punishment is well justified and serves as a warning to other unscrupulous health-care professionals."

Source: Adriana M. Chavez, "Psychiatrist given 25 years in health-care fraud case," El Paso Times, January 7, 2012.


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