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Texas doctor at center of CBS News investigation pleads guilty to fraud

Dozens charged in Medicare scheme
Dozens charged in Medicare fraud scheme 02:44

A Texas doctor connected to a massive Medicare fraud uncovered by a CBS News investigation has pleaded guilty to federal charges. 

According to court documents, Daniel Canchola, 49, fraudulently billed Medicare for over $54 million worth of services, including for genetic tests that CBS News found preyed on seniors' cancer fears.

"The Criminal Division is committed to protecting patients and prosecuting the providers that exploit them," said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department's Criminal Division. "Canchola's plea demonstrates that medical professionals who prioritize profit over patient care will be held accountable."

CBS News chief investigative correspondent Jim Axelrod revealed in 2019 how telemarketing recruiters would entice seniors to hand over their insurance information and a saliva sample for a "free" genetic cancer risk test. Those recruiters then partnered with laboratories and doctors, including Canchola, to bill Medicare for expensive and unnecessary genetic tests.

Many seniors told CBS News they never received any test results, but their Medicare accounts were billed thousands of dollars anyway.

In 2019, Axelrod questioned Canchola in a Dallas parking lot about bills he had submitted for a pair of retirees he had never met or treated, and whose accounts were hit with $19,000 worth of charges. Two weeks later, Canchola was among dozens arrested for allegedly participating in the genetic testing scheme.

On Tuesday, Canchola pleaded guilty to a wire fraud charge and admitted to "prescribing…cancer genetic testing without ever seeing, speaking to, or otherwise treating patients." Court documents show he also collected more than $450,000 in illegal kickbacks in exchange for signing the test orders. He faces up to 20 years in prison.  

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