Update: El Paso VA Doctor Charged with Writing Bad Scripts for Cash
Updated On: Aug 20 2013 10:34:49 AM CDT
A West Virginia newspaper reports the El Paso Veterans Affairs doctor charged with operating an illegal prescriptions-for-cash clinic was not licensed to practice medicine in Texas.
The Charleston Daily Mail reports Dr. Fernando Gonzalez-Ramos, 47, has medical licenses in West Virginia and Puerto Rico, but not Texas.
The newspaper's article states an El Paso V.A. spokeswoman says doctors working for the V.A. are not required to possess licenses for the states in which they are assigned to treat former military members.
Dr. Gonzalez was arrested Sunday in Logan County, West Virginia, following a raid on a make-shift office where he was seeing patients.
F.B.I. agents say the office had no running water, no examining tables, not even a stethoscope -- though there was a line of patients streaming out the door.
Feds allege Dr. Gonzalez worked at the V.A. in El Paso but would travel to West Virginia throughout the year, seeing large volumes of patients at a time, handing out pre-written narcotics prescriptions. The federal indictment states Gonzalez would charge between $450 to $500 for each prescription.
Agents state Gonzalez made approximately $1.1 million since 2011, seeing nearly 3,100 patients.
ABC7's Matt Dougherty and Gerardo Najera visited the West El Paso home of Dr. Gonzalez on Wednesday.
Jaime Polanco, who claimed he was the doctor's father-in-law, said he was shocked.
"We are all torn up," Polanco said. "You can imagine in a situation like this, he is a professional."
Polanco said he did not have more details, his son-in-law and father of three children had not contacted his family since the arrest.
At the El Paso V.A. one of Gonzalez's patients went to hospital administrators looking for answers.
"They told us he was in a mandatory training, but first they told us he had been sick," former soldier Ronnie Ondragon said. "But we had just seen it on the news! He was in jail."
Ondragon says he and his wife had requested another doctor after they claimed to be unhappy with Gonzalez's care in the past, but they were never assigned another doctor.
"I'm not surprised," Ondragon said. "If my doctor's not here to treat my issues then who is?"
El Paso V.A. spokeswoman Susan Fleming released a statement from the department
Wednesday evening which states:
"We have learned about the charges against Dr. Fernando Gonzalez-Ramos. We are conducting an internal review to ensure if his practice here at the VA was in compliance with VHA directives. We want all patients who have an appointment to know they will be seen by another provider and we will be speaking with them individually."
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