A woman was arrested at South Padre Island on Friday in connection with a healthcare fraud scheme, according to court records and the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas.
In a superseding indictment returned June 21, 56-year-old Nora Alaniz and 72-year-old Dr. Tajul Shams Chowdhury of McAllen were charged with conspiring to pay and receive illegal kickbacks in exchange for the referral of prescriptions for compound drugs.
Prosecutors say Alaniz, a registered nurse and the former owner of a home health care company in Hidalgo County, received kickbacks disguised as employee salaries from a local pharmacy. In turn, she allegedly paid Chowdhury and employees of his Edinburg medical clinic for the referrals.
The superseding indictment also alleges Chowdhury wrote prescriptions and referred them to the pharamacy. As a result of the scheme, the pharmacy received more than $300,000 from healthcare benefit programs such as Medicare and Medicaid from January to July 2017, according to the indictment.
Chowdhury and five others were originally charged in July 2021. Four have already pleaded guilty in relation to the original indictment.
Alaniz appeared before a federal judge on Monday and was remanded to the custody of U.S. Marshals, according to court records.
Chowdhury pleaded not guilty to the charges on Monday, court records show.
If convicted, Alaniz and Chowdhury face up to five years in prison.