News Release
June 30, 2009
Contact: Thomas E. Murphy
(314) 538-4660

Fairfield Illinois Woman Sentenced for Making False Statements to a Federal Health Care Program

JUN 30 -- (BENTON, IL) - A. Courtney Cox, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced that on June 25, 2009, April L. SANTIAGO, 30, of Fairfield, Illinois was sentenced in federal district court in Benton on the misdemeanor charge of making False Statements to a Federal Health Care Program. The district court sentenced SANTIAGO to two years probation. The court also ordered SANTIAGO to pay restitution.

As part of the plea on March 24, 2009, defendant SANTIAGO admitted that she worked from July 2005 to April 2006 as a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) with the Norris City Health Care Clinic in Norris City, White County, Illinois. SANTIAGO would instruct individuals to come to the clinic and complain of ailments that they did not have in order to obtain controlled substance prescriptions to which they were not entitled. As a result, Medicaid, a Federal Health Care Program, reimbursed the clinic for visits that were not medically necessary and the pharmacy for prescriptions to which the patients was not entitled.

On or about December 14, 2005, SANTIAGO instructed a Medicaid patient to falsely claim to have a toothache in order to obtain a prescription for the controlled substance, Hydrocodone, a Schedule III Controlled Substance. SANTIAGO then purchased the Hydrocodone from the patient. SANTIAGO, while she was working for the clinic, would change and alter prescriptions for individuals on Medicaid who received a prescription for regular cough syrup.

She would add “HC” which would change the prescription to a cough syrup containing Hydrocodone, which can be a Schedule Controlled Substance. She would then fax the prescriptions to the pharmacy or give the altered prescription to the individual patient. SANTIAGO would then purchase back the controlled substance from the individual patient. She was charged within one such false statement for December 14, 2005. The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; the Drug Enforcement Administration/Diversion Group; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The cases were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Liam Coonan.