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May 14, 09

NEWS / McAllen Cardiologist Pleads Guilty To Health Care Fraud

McALLEN, TXóDr. Fabian Aurignac has pleaded guilty to submitting thousands of dollars in false and fraudulent claims to the Medicare and the Medicaid health care programs, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced today.

Aurignac, 46, who owned and operated the Cardiology Care Center in McAllen, Texas, was originally indicted Oct. 21, 2008. A superseding indictment was returned on May 6, 2009, charging him with multiple counts of defrauding Medicaid and Medicare by submitting claims for cardiac services he had personally performed when, in fact, he had used unlicensed foreign doctors and unqualified medical personal to perform the services and billed for medical services which were never provided.

Today, in a hearing before United States District Judge Randy Crane, Aurignac admitted that between July 12, 2007, and July 28, 2007, while vacationing in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aurignac fraudulently billed for services to Medicare and Medicaid for cardiac services which he never performed or which were performed by unsupervised, unqualified personal as alleged in count eight of the superseding indictment. Based on this fraudulent billing, he billed approximately $900,000 to Medicare/Medicaid and received approximately $260,000 in payments from the federal health care programs.

As part of his plea agreement, Aurignac has agreed to forfeit to the United States $1,157,400 seized from two bank accounts at First National Bank, $7,187 seized from a safe on the 700 block of Ware Road in McAllen and a 1995 GMC Truck. If Aurignac persists in his plea of guilty then the United States has agreed to dismiss the remaining 11 counts alleged in the indictment after sentencing. Sentencing has been set for July 27, 2009, at 2:00 p.m. Aurignac faces a maximum punishment of up to 10 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $250,000.

The investigation leading to the charges against Dr. Aurignac was conducted by the McAllen office of the FBI and the Texas Attorney Generalís Office. Assistant United States Attorney Carolyn Ferko is prosecuting the criminal case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Allan Hoffmann is responsible for the asset forfeiture aspect of the case.

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