Manuel Anthony Puig, 44, and his wife Romelia Sanchez Puig, 41, both of Edinburg, have been indicted by a federal grand jury for health care fraud, mail fraud, and conspiracy to commit health care fraud, United States Attorney Josť Angel Moreno and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced on Wednesday.

The three-count indictment was returned on Tuesday, March 9. The Puigs surrendered themselves to the United States Marshals Service on Wednesday morning and made their initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos who ordered them released on $174,000 bond. They are scheduled for arraignment on March 15, at 11 a.m.

According to allegations in the indictment, Manuel Puig, a licensed physicianís assistant, and Romelia Puig, a certified nursing assistant, operated the La Hacienda Family Clinic, near Alton. Husband and wife are charged with conspiring to defraud the Texas Medicaid program, with executing a scheme to defraud Medicaid and with mail fraud by means of false and fraudulent claims to Medicaid in connection with the use of unlicensed medical personal, billing for medical services not rendered and for billing for medical services which were allegedly provided without any supervision or delegation from a licensed physician.

As a physicianís assistant, Mr. Puig is required to have a licensed physician supervising his work and delegating responsibilities to him. According to allegations in the indictment, in May 2005, Mr. Puig filed a written notice with the Texas State Board of Physician Assistant Examiners fraudulently claiming he would be supervised by a licensed physician in Mission. Between May 2005 and January 2006, the indictment alleges Mr. Puig provided and attempted to provide medical services at La Hacienda Clinic which were not delegated to him nor supervised by a licensed physician. The indictment further alleges he and Mrs. Puig billed Medicaid for medical services illegally provided by Mr. Puig, illegally provided by unlicensed individuals and for medical services that were never rendered then sent more than 6,000 claims for payment to Medicaid charging in excess of $268,000 for these illegal/ineligible services.

Mr. and Mrs. Puig face up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, if convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud or executing the scheme to commit health care fraud and up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of mail fraud.

The investigation leading to the charges in this case was conducted by the FBI and the Texas Attorney Generalís Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Casey N. MacDonald and Special Assistant United States Attorney Rex G. Beasley are prosecuting the case.