Houston area residents charged in health care fraud scheme involving local pharmacies, pain clinic: DOJ

HOUSTON – Five men accused in a health care fraud scheme involving local pharmacies and a pain clinic are set to make their appearances in Houston federal court, U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery announced Monday.

Charles Willis, 57, appeared for his arraignment on the federal indictment. Henry Gonzales, 48, is charged with related criminal information and is expected to make his initial appearance Tuesday.

Four others are charged in the six-count indictment returned on April 27 along with Willis. Tronown Thomas, 44, Spring, Willie McDonald, 69, Humble, Ronald Kwan, 60, Missouri City, and Valdi Tatan, 37, Richmond, have all already made their appearances in Houston federal court.

Gonzales owned Option 1 Pain & Rehab Clinic (formerly Direct Medical Clinic) in Houston as well as Farmacia, a pharmacy located in Houston, according to the charges.

According to the indictment, Thomas was the owner of Rayford ACP Pharmacy, Willis worked as a doctor at Option 1 and Tatan and Kwan were pharmacists for Farmacia.

Gonzales allegedly paid kickbacks to McDonald to recruit and refer federal employee patients to Direct Medical/Option 1. There, Willis would see patients and, at the request of Gonzalez who paid him in kickbacks, prescribed medically unnecessary drugs, according to the charges.

The charges also allege that at Farmacia, Tatan and Kwan were paid in kickbacks to fill the compounded drug prescriptions. Farmacia and Rayford ACP would then allegedly bill the Department of Labor (DOL) Federal Employee Compensation Program. Gonzales and Thomas would disburse the funds amongst the conspirators, according to the indictment.

If convicted, all five face up to five years in federal prison for the conspiracy and up to 10 years for the related health care fraud charges.

Thomas and Willis are also charged with conspiracy to launder money and face another 10-year-term of imprisonment.

About the Author:

Award-winning journalist, mother, YouTuber, social media guru, millennial, mentor, storyteller, University of Houston alumna and Houston-native.