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11 March 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Two San Gabriel Val…

11 March 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Two San Gabriel Valley women have been indicted on federal health care fraud charges for allegedly selling bogus patient charts to be used to bill Medicare for services that were never performed.

Yadira Upegui, believed to be in her early 30s, and her sister, Astrid Upegui, 29, both of West Covina, were named in a two-count indictment returned yesterday afternoon by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles. The indictment accuses them of conspiracy and health care fraud.

Both sisters were affiliated with Clinica Medica El Monte, which suspended operations in December 2004. The indictment alleges a conspiracy that started at that time and culminated on February 28 when Astrid Upegui was arrested. The defendants allegedly created false medical charts for actual Medicare beneficiaries and sold them to another person for billing to Medicare. Astrid Upegui was arrested after delivering a first set of approximately 25 charts to the purchaser, who was cooperating with government investigators.

The indictment alleges that the sisters’ plan was to continue with weekly deliveries for at least three months and to cause a loss to Medicare in excess of $600,000.

Astrid Upegui, who has been freed on a $30,000 bond, is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment on March 21. Yadira Upegui is a fugitive who is currently being sought by federal authorities.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by a criminal unit recently formed by United States Attorney Debra W. Yang and which is dedicated to the prosecution of health care fraud. Southern California is one of the “hot spots” in the country for this type of fraud, Ms. Yang said when forming the unit.

CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Consuelo S. Woodhead
Coordinator, USAO Health Care Fraud Unit

British MP George Galloway and his opponent the Daily Telegraph will leave no stone unturned to sort out what could be a spectacular libel case.