A Texas couple has been charged with an elaborate scheme to defraud Medicaid of a staggering $14 million. Their method involved repeatedly claiming to have repaired the same motorized wheelchairs hundreds of times.
According to the charges filed in federal court in Brownsville, Texas, many of the fraudulent claims were made on behalf of bedridden patients who were unable to use the wheelchairs at all. The couple in question, Jeremiah Yzaguirre and Maria Luisa Yzaguirre of Harlingen, Texas, allegedly submitted these claims for 37 individuals who were previous customers of their medical device company, Southwest Medical Homepatient.
The Yzaguirres are accused of using the ill-gotten funds to indulge in a lavish lifestyle. They reportedly purchased a luxury sports car, an Acura NSX valued at $150,000. In addition, they invested heavily in high-priced real estate and acquired hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of cryptocurrency. The couple also amassed an impressive collection of movie memorabilia, including a prized Johnny 5 robot prop from the 1986 film "Short Circuit" worth over $100,000.
Jeremiah Yzaguirre was arrested on August 22 after being indicted under seal. His attorney has not yet responded to inquiries seeking comment. On the other hand, Maria Yzaguirre was apprehended on Wednesday morning, and it remains unclear whether she has obtained legal representation. She is expected to make her initial court appearance on Thursday afternoon.
Court filings reveal that between 2019 and 2023, the couple filed numerous claims for identical repairs on the same wheelchairs. In one instance, they allegedly submitted over 300 repair claims for a single wheelchair, including 132 for its expandable controller, 107 for its motor gearbox, and 84 for battery replacement.
Prosecutors have sought permission from the judge to seize the couple's assets, which include hundreds of thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency wallets and regular cash accounts, the Acura sports car, drone equipment, valuable anime figurines, and movie-themed Lego sets.
If convicted, the Yzaguirres could face severe penalties. Each charge of fraud and money laundering carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, while each count of aggravated identity theft carries a maximum two-year sentence. This case underscores the importance of protecting public assistance programs from fraudsters who try to exploit them for personal gain.
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