Tuesday, October 24, 2006

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Attorney General Abbott's Investigators Arrest Pharmacy Owner Indicted For Medicaid Fraud

BROWNSVILLE - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today announced the arrest of a Cameron County pharmacy owner who was indicted by a grand jury on Oct. 18 for felony offenses involving more than $5 million in alleged fraudulent Medicaid reimbursements for excessive prescription refills.

Erasmo A. Cantu, 53, owner of Westside Cantu Pharmacy on Los Ebanos Boulevard in Brownsville, has been charged with two counts of first-degree felony theft and two counts of first-degree insurance fraud. The charges stem from what appear to be excessive fraudulent claims paid by the Medicaid program for thousands of fraudulent prescriptions for medications, infant supplements and even vitamins.

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Erasmo Cantu
Erasmo Cantu

“Business owners who realize huge profits from committing felonies against the Medicaid program are stealing money from hard working taxpayers,” said Attorney General Greg Abbott. “I appreciate the working cooperation we have with Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos to bring criminals to justice.”

Officers from the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit served an arrest warrant on Cantu at his Brownsville residence on Oct. 20, while search warrants for information were simultaneously executed on his business and residence.

The grand jury indictment alleges Cantu filled invalid prescriptions for various medications from 2003-2005 on behalf of Medicaid-eligible patients, then billed Medicaid for reimbursements totaling almost $7.8 million, of which he actually received fraudulent reimbursements of over $5 million.

Cantu allegedly accomplished this scheme by continuing to refill prescriptions beyond the five-refill maximum within a six-month period. After that limit is reached, patients must consult with their physicians to renew the prescriptions, but Cantu encouraged Medicaid patients to ignore that requirement.

Cameron County Assistant District Attorney Michael Kiesel will prosecute this case.

To obtain more information about the Attorney General’s efforts to fight Medicaid fraud, access the agency’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.