The federal government's roundup of dentists for Medicaid fraud in South Texas has claimed its latest casualty: outgoing state Rep. Tara Rios Ybarra.
The South Padre Democrat is currently in federal custody, after being charged with three counts of making payments to a non-licensed physician. The felony charges come from her alleged involvement in a kickback scheme led by McAllen oral surgeon Gary Morgan Schwarz, who's accused of paying four Valley dentists — one of them Ybarra— to refer him Medicaid patients. Schwarz was also indicted for allegedly submitting fraudulent Medicaid claims, including some for services he never carried out and performed using unlicensed medical personnel.
Ybarra lost her District 43 seat to J.M. Lozano, a South Texas businessman, during the March Democratic primary. Lozano does not have a Republican opponent in the fall.
Ricardo Hinojosa, the McAllen-based chief judge in the U.S. Southern District of Texas, recused himself from the case last week. The case now been assigned to U.S. District Judge Randy Crane.