Prominent Hidalgo County businessman charged with health care fraud
A federal judge set bond Thursday for a prominent Hidalgo County businessman accused of health care fraud.
Julian Ybarra Jr., 49, of McAllen — a businessman who served on the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority board and the Hidalgo County Civil Service Commission — appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Juan F. Alanis on Thursday afternoon.
Ybarra and his sister, Krystal, are accused of providing two pharmacists with fraudulent prescriptions, according to federal court records. The pharmacists paid them about $2.8 million.
“Obviously, Julian has problems,” said attorney Crispin “C.J.” Quintanilla III, who represents him. "And we're going to find a solution."
Ybarra owns Wiggles Children’s Rehab in Mission. He also co-owned The Boiler Room, a downtown McAllen bar, and other now-defunct businesses.
The Hidalgo County Commissioners Court appointed Ybarra to the Regional Mobility Authority board, which plays a major role in transportation planning, in January 2015. He was appointed to the Civil Service Commission, which reviews employee complaints and grievances, in August 2016.
“He resigned some time ago,” said Raul Silguero Jr., the director of Human Resources for Hidalgo County.
The federal investigation focused on Mission Wellness Center, a business Ybarra formed in 2014, according to records filed with the Texas Secretary of State’s Office and the Hidalgo County Clerk’s Office.
Ybarra worked with a nurse practitioner, who signed “false and fraudulent prescriptions for compound medication and medicated patches” in 2014 and 2015, according to court records. Patients didn’t know about the prescriptions and never received the medication.
Mission Wellness Center submitted the prescriptions to pharmacists in Pharr and Houston. Court records don’t identify the pharmacists by name.
Pharmacist 1 lived in Hidalgo County and owned a pharmacy located in Pharr, according to court records. Pharmacist 2 lived in Harris County and owned at least one pharmacy located in Houston.
Armed with the fraudulent prescriptions, the Pharr pharmacy collected about $2.1 million from health insurance companies, according to court records. Pharmacist 1 paid Ybarra and his sister about $1.3 million.
The Houston-based pharmacy collected about $3.5 million thanks to the fraudulent prescriptions, according to court records. Pharmacist 2 paid Ybarra and his sister about $1.5 million.
Ybarra is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, nine counts of health care fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive illegal remuneration.
The most serious charge, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Alanis, the federal magistrate judge, set bond at $250,000 with no deposit required.
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