RGV Home Health Care Providers Waiting for Pay after Companies Face Fraud Charges
HARLINGEN – A group of Rio Grande Valley home health care providers say they’re waiting to get paid.
They are waiting for a month's worth of wages after their employer closed its doors amid federal charges for health care fraud and money laundering.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS looked through the indictment filed in the U.S. District Court. Three men out of Cameron County are involved in what the FBI is calling a $150 million fraud scheme.
Valley workers like Maria Garcia just want to know when they will be paid for their work.
“I’ve been with that company for a long time and for this to happen...” Garcia tells us.
The company she referred to is Merida Health Care Group. She says she has worked for them for over 5 years.
Garcia says she didn’t get her paycheck on April 1.
“You got the bills. Besides the bills you got to buy groceries, cleaning supplies, gas for the car. If my brother needs something, get him something... And I never thought this would happen. Like, I’m not putting money away. I’m living by check,” Garcia explains.
She says she didn’t get paid on the April 16, either.
Garcia says something seemed fishy when the company stopped doing direct deposit, switched banks and didn’t show up to hand out paychecks.
She says if you add up all the overtime she worked last month, she’s out of about $2,000.
We researched the company and found that the Department of Justice named Merida, along with several affiliated entities like Bee Caring Hospice, BRM Home Health, Professional Hospice, Illumina LLC, Virtue Home Health, Well-Care Home Health, Excellent Homecare Provider service and others in an alleged Medicare fraud and money laundering scheme.
Four Texas men including a Texas mayor were also included.
We also found similar complaints out of other Texas cities.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS dug into the U.S. District Court records and went to the location court documents listed as the company’s headquarters in Harlingen.
We found an empty commercial building space with leasing signs on the front and a Merida logo half peeled off.
We tried calling the number on the door as well as multiple websites and didn’t get an answer.
Court documents name the owner of Merida and other affiliates of the company as Rodney Mesquias, a Cameron County man.
Two other Cameron County residents, Henry McInnis and Jose Garza, are also named in the indictment.
It further alleges Mesquias and McInnis used the stolen money to buy a Porsche, luxury clothing from high-end retailers like Louis Vuitton, exclusive real estate and season tickets for premium seating to watch the San Antonio Spurs.
Franciso Pena of Laredo was also charged in that 11-count indictment filed in the Southern District of Texas. Pena served as the Mayor of Rio Bravo and as a medical director for the Merida Group’s affiliated entities.
As charges stay pending against these men, Garcia wonders how something like this could happen and when she will see her money.
“I hope that the state hurries up and OKs the investigation because I don’t know how long it’s going to be,” she says.
We reached out to the Department of Labor, the Better Business Bureau and Texas Workforce Solutions.
We’re told if you are owed money, you should file a claim.