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Doctor accused in health care fraud

A Texas doctor is accused of running a massive health care fraud scheme with thousands of fraudulent patients and intermediaries offering cash, food stamps or free groceries, to bilk Medicare and Medicaid of nearly $375 million, authorities said Tuesday.

The federal indictment unsealed Tuesday charges Jacques Roy, a doctor who owned Medistat Group Associates in DeSoto, Texas, and six others in an alleged scheme to bill Medicare for home health services that were not properly billed, not necessary or not done.

The scheme was the largest dollar amount by a single doctor uncovered by a task force on Medicare fraud, authorities said.

U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldana accused Roy of "selling his signature" to home health agencies that rounded up thousands of patients' names and billed Medicare and Medicaid for five years.

The indictment alleged that from January 2006 through November 2011, Roy or others certified 11,000 Medicare beneficiaries for more than 500 home health service agencies -- more patients than any other medical practice in the United States. More than 75 of those agencies have had their Medicare payments suspended.

Roy, 54, is charged with several counts of health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud. He faces up to 100 years in prison if convicted on all counts. He appeared briefly in court Tuesday and is scheduled to have a detention hearing today. Authorities also moved to seize cash in Roy's bank accounts, cars and two sailboats.

His attorney, Patrick McLain, said authorities had contacted Roy months ago. McLain said it was too soon to comment on the case because prosecutors hadn't provided him with most of the evidence yet.

The attorney for one of the home health agency owners, Cynthia Stiger, alleged to be part of the scheme called the charges and the dollar amounts listed overblown. Stiger pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

"They're not anywhere close to accurate," said Jeffrey Grass, Stiger's attorney.

Saldana said Roy used the home health agencies as "his soldiers on the ground to go door to door to recruit Medicare beneficiaries."

"He was selling his signature," she said.