Charges filed

Special to the PRESS

A 56-year-old South Padre Island woman has been taken into custody on charges related to a healthcare fraud and kickback scheme, announced Jennifer B. Lowery, U.S. Attorney.

Nora Alaniz, of South Padre Island, was set to make her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker at 10 a.m. June 27. Previously charged was Dr. Tajul Shams Chowdhury, 72, McAllen. He will again appear on the charges in the superseding indictment in the near future, according to the press release from the United States Department of Justice.

The 16-count superseding indictment returned June 21 charges Alaniz and Chowdhury with conspiracy to pay and receive illegal kickbacks in exchange for the referral of prescriptions for compound drugs, according to the press release from the United States Department of Justice.

Alaniz is a registered nurse and the former owner of a home health care company located in Hidalgo County, according to the charges, while Chowdhury is a physician who also previously operated a medical clinic in Edinburg.

Alaniz allegedly received kickbacks disguised as employee salaries from a local pharmacy. In turn, she paid Chowdhury and employees of his medical clinic for the referrals, according to the press release.

The release also stated that the superseding indictment alleges Chowdhury wrote prescriptions and referred them to the pharmacy. As a result of the illegal kickback 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 charges.

The indictment further alleges Alaniz received over-

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