A jury found Rodney Mesquias guilty last week on charges of: conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to obstruct justice, conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, and six counts of healthcare fraud.
Mesquias owned and operated Merida Group, a healthcare company with dozens of locations in Texas. The Department of Justice says Mesquias conspired with the company’s CEO and medical director to mislead thousands of people with long-term, but not fatal, illnesses into believing they had only six months to live. This led to their enrollment in Merida’s “expensive and unnecessary” group homes, nursing homes, and housing projects.
This story has been widely reported and is one of the more egregious examples of intentional fraud I’ve seen. It has everything – false medical records, kickbacks, medically unnecessary services. To make matters worse, there were allegations that those involved were lying to patients telling them they had fatal illnesses, going so far as to send “chaplains” to lie to patients and give them last rites.
Given the complexities of the fraud and abuse laws, there are occasions when providers unintentionally run afoul of the rules. This is not one of those instances. The jury clearly thought this was intentional deceit.