McALLEN, — A local Physician's Assistant now faces 10 years in prison for falsely submitting thousands of Medicaid claims on behalf a deceased medical doctor, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced on Monday.

Manuel Anthony Puig, 44, has plead guilty to conspiracy to defraud the Texas Medicaid Program after it was found that he submitted more than 6,000 claims to Medicaid by using the Texas Medical provider number for an unnamed doctor.

Doing business as Puig Medical Services, out of La Hacienda Family Clinic, near Alton, Texas. Medicaid paid approximately $173,830.56 in false claims between May 2005 and January 2006.

Puig pleaded guilty before Chief United States District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa on Friday, July 23, 2010, to the conspiracy charge and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conviction.

Puig was orginally indicted by a federal grand jury on March 9, 2010, for health care fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Puig admitted using the Medicaid provider number of R.J.P., a medical doctor who, for some time before 2005 until his death, was physically and mentally unable to practice medicine nor provide any health care benefits, items or services.

That doctor did not delegate authority to Puig to provide any health care benefits, items or services; and did not supervise Puig’s attempts to provide health care benefits, items or services, according to the AG.

Puig admitted that he furthered the conspiracy by submitting, or allowing others to submit, a written notice with the Texas State Board of Physician Assistant Examiners that fraudulently claimed that R.J.P. would supervise his attempts to provide health care benefits, items and services at La Hacienda Family Clinic.

Puig then operated La Hacienda Family Clinic without supervision, and then submitted claims, or aided and abetted others in the submission of claims, to Medicaid under the Medicaid provider number of R.J.P. for health care benefits.

Puig also admitted that for the period of time beginning on or about May 1, 2005, through on or about Jan. 10, 2006, he provided medical care and services for Medicaid beneficiaries without the authority or the supervision of R.J.P., and even signed an affidavit sent to the Texas Medical Board in January 2006 - falsely claiming he had been assisting R.J.P., that there had been communications between them and that he believed R.J.P was mentally capable of practicing medicine.

The clinic operated by Puig is no longer in operation. Puig remains free on bond of $174,000 pending sentencing scheduled for October 26, 2010.

Puig’s wife, Romelia Sanchez Puig, 41, who allegedly acted as the biller for the clinic she and her husband operated and is also charged for her alleged involvement in the health care fraud scheme, remains on bond pending trial on the charges pending against her.