A former Rio Grande Valley official faces up to 10 years in prison after his conviction in a scheme to defraud Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas.
Oscar Elizondo, 47, conspired to submit more than $1.7 million in fraudulent insurance claims for high-priced pain patches and scar creams, federal prosecutors said.
Elizondo was a marketer for Penitas Family Pharmacy in the Hidalgo County town of Penitas, where he targeted employers that carried employee health insurance through Blue Cross, including the Pharr and Point Isabel Independent School District.
The former Pharr city commissioner — who resigned last year after his arrest on charges of drunken driving and illegal possession of a firearm — offered meals, drinks, and promises of free prescription pain patches and scar creams to entice employees to turn over their insurance information.
The San Antonio Express-News reported that Elizondo’s co-conspirators used the insurance information to submit fraudulent claims for treatments that employees never received.
Other employees were sent to a doctor who received kickbacks, including cash, loans, and prescription drugs. Elizondo also set up a temporary office for the doctor in a vacant office and a rented recreational vehicle where they solicited employees to write fraudulent prescriptions, prosecutors said.
Elizondo faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 maximum fine. Sentencing is scheduled for early next year by U.S. District Judge Randy Crane. Meantime, Elizondo remains free on bond.
Two years ago, federal authorities launched the Rio Grande Valley Public Corruption Task Force to break up rampant corruption, ranging from drug smuggling and vote stealing to courthouse bribery and healthcare fraud.
In 2013, 83 public officials were convicted of federal crimes in South Texas — more than in any other region of the country.