McALLEN, Texas – A local pharmacy marketer entered a guilty plea in connection with her role in a multi-million dollar illegal kickback conspiracy involving a pharmacy in the Rio Grande Valley and doctors throughout Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Victoria Renee Guerra, 35, a licensed pharmacist of McAllen, entered her guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez this morning.
At the hearing, Guerra admitted that as part of her role as a purported marketer, she recruited physicians to write prescriptions for expensive compound drugs to be filled by Pharmacy A and for which the pharmacy would bill federal health care programs.
During an approximately two-year period starting in late 2014, the owner of Pharmacy A paid Guerra approximately $7.5 million in return for compound drug prescriptions written by physicians Guerra recruited. In turn, Guerra paid a cut of the payments from Pharmacy A to the prescribing physicians. For example, Guerra admitted she paid approximately $2.1 million in kickbacks to one of the physicians sending prescriptions to Pharmacy A, identified in the Criminal Information as “Doctor 1.”
During the conspiracy, pharmacy A submitted claims totaling approximately $42.2 million to the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Workers Compensation Program, for prescriptions that doctor 1 wrote for beneficiaries of the Federal Employee’s Compensation Act.
Guerra pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the federal anti-kickback statute, which prohibits the payment of kickbacks to induce physicians to write prescriptions for which payment may be made in whole or in part under a federal health care benefit program. At sentencing, which is scheduled for May 29, 2019, Guerra faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $25,000 maximum fine.
She was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.
The U.S. Postal Service – Office of Inspector General (OIG), Department of Labor – OIG, FBI, Veterans Affairs – OIG, Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Swartz is prosecuting the case.