A father and son from Dallas have been convicted of bilking Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas of more than $16.7 million in a healthcare scheme from their offices in Arlington and Bedford.
A federal jury convicted Terry Anderson, 67, and his son, Rocky Anderson, 37, last week on multiple counts of healthcare fraud stemming from their business, Anderson Optical & Hearing Aids Center, with offices in Arlington and Bedford.
Evidence in the trial indicated that the Andersons defrauded the company by submitting claims on behalf of American Airlines employees for hearing aids that were not needed and in many cases were never dispensed to patients.
Jurors returned their verdict on Thursday after a 10-day trial in which Terry Anderson, during his testimony attempted to blame his patients.
"Well, unfortunately among us are people that will take advantage of perhaps any program, if they have an opportunity to," Terry Anderson testified.
A sentencing date is pending.
A forfeiture notice against the Andersons requires that they turn over a 300-acre ranch in Bosque County, three vehicles and more than $3.1 million from nine financial accounts.
Federal agents noted that fraudulent marketing practices helped the Andersons increase the number of claims submitted. Some patients were promised a free pair of expensive sunglasses or prescription glasses if they would take a free hearing test. After testing, patients were told they had slight to mild hearing loss and required them to sign an order for hearing aids before receiving the free glasses.
The Andersons also promised patients the hearing aids at no cost and said Anderson Optical & Hearing would waive any co-payments, coinsurance or deductibles. The father and son also offered $100 gift cards to patients for referrals to family members and co-workers.
In 2012, the Andersons brought their scheme into American Airlines airport facilities, offering free hearing tests to aircraft mechanics and fleet service clerks at maintenance hangars and in employee break rooms. With the offer of free sunglasses, the Andersons had long lines of employees waiting to take what witnesses said were three- to five-minutes tests, according to court documents.
An expert witness testified that such cursory screening tests were incapable of producing results that would help with legitimate decisions on dispensing hearing aids.
Evidence presented at the federal trial showed that Blue Cross conducted a audit of Anderson Optical & Hearing in November 2013, requesting copies of patient records for certain American Airlines employees and their dependents. In 2014, officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services' professional licensing unit began an investigation of the business after receiving a complaint.
The Andersons submitted several patient records to the state agency, including some that Blue Cross had itself collected. Patient records given to the state agency contained altered text scores and other differences from the Blue Cross records, according to federal agents.
Overall, the Andersons submitted claims totaling $27 million for hearing aids on behalf of American Airline employees. Blue Cross paid Anderson Optical & Hearing more than $16.7 million, according to court documents.
Terry Anderson was convicted on 15 counts of healthcare fraud and identity theft. His son was convicted on 13 counts of healthcare fraud and identity theft.
If found guilty, the Andersons face up to 10 years on each of the healthcare fraud charges and two years on each of the identity theft charges.