RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Two men serving prison sentences for health care fraud have been charged once again in federal court.

On Thursday, criminal complaints were filed against Rodney Mesquias, 51, and Henry McInnis, 51, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The complaints charge Mesquias and McInnis with conspiring to violate the False Claims Act during a health care fraud scheme they operated from 2009 to 2018.

Specifically, Mesquias and McInnis, both Harlingen residents, are accused of violating the act by submitting false claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary hospice care and home health services.

In November 2019, Mesquias and McInnis were found guilty of committing health care fraud. Mesquias and McInnis were sentenced to 20 years and 15 years in prison, respectively. Mesquias was additionally fined $120 million to pay to Medicare.

An investigation revealed Mesquias and McInnis engaged in a $150 million scheme falsely claiming people needed hospice care while operating Merida Group, a health care company that had dozens of locations throughout Texas.

Mesquias was Merida Group’s owner and McInnis was the company’s CEO. Francisco Peña, 82, acted as the company’s medical director. Peña was mayor of Rio Bravo in Webb County and was also charged and convicted. However, he died before sentencing.

The conspirators exploited patients with long-term, incurable diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, by enrolling them in expensive, unnecessary hospice services from 2009 to 2018.

Medical professionals were sent to the patients and incorrectly told them they had only six months to live. When the patients outlived this term, they were kept on hospice care so that Merida Group could profit more.

Peña told a cooperating witness “the way you make money is by keeping them alive as long as possible,” according to trial testimony.

In order to keep the conspiracy going, Mesquias fired employees who were not willing to go along with the fraud. He told employees not to “[expletive] with his patients or [expletive] with his money.”

Merida Group created false records to show that patients were dying and progressively getting worse, even though the opposite was true.

Mesquias used funding to buy expensive vehicles, jewelry, luxury clothing, real estate, and season tickets for sporting events. He treated compliant employees to parties and offered them tens of thousands of dollars in alcohol and other perks in exchange for medically unnecessary patient referrals.

The two men could now face additional prison terms if found guilty of violating the False Claims Act.