Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Attorney General Abbott's Medicaid Fraud Officers Arrest Nursing Home Business Office ManagerHEMPSTEAD - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s investigators arrested the business office manager of the Brookshire Nursing Center in Waller County, following a grand jury indictment handed down on April 11.
Gabriela Ortiz Aguilar, 26, of Houston, was charged with second-degree felonies, one count each for theft and misappropriation of fiduciary property in connection with alleged theft of trust funds from nursing home residents. She was arrested and booked into the Harris County Jail on April 13. Her bond was set at $75,000 and she is awaiting transfer to Waller County.
“As nursing home business office manager, this individual had a duty to protect the residents of this nursing facility, including their finances,” said Attorney General Abbott. “The allegations that she arranged to have residents’ trust funds transferred to her personal use is an outrage and never will be tolerated in this state.”
Medicaid fraud investigators found evidence that Aguilar misappropriated more than $32,000 from trust fund accounts belonging to residents, then deposited these funds into her personal bank accounts between August 2003 and September 2004.
Relatives of individual residents may elect to have Medicaid funds and deposits from family members held in nursing home “trust fund” accounts for the needs of the residents. Nursing home officials – in this case Aguilar – are entrusted with managing these accounts and making cash distributions based on the requests of the residents or their relatives. The accounts may be audited by the state at any time.
In this case, officials with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services made a surprise visit to the facility to audit the accounts after several delays prompted by Aguilar. The agency found that Aguilar wrote 33 checks from the combined trust fund pool to her personal accounts. These officials then referred the case to the Attorney General’s Medicaid Control Fraud Unit for criminal investigation.
At the request of the Waller County District Attorney’s Office, Aguilar’s case will be prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Carolyn Denero.
To obtain more information about the Attorney General’s efforts to fight Medicaid fraud, access the agency’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.