A 60-year-old Santa Ana pharmacy owner made her initial court appearance Wednesday on charges of bilking the state and Orange County out of nearly $2 million.
Divina Villacarlos Catalasan of Cypress was charged May 31 with three felony counts each of making a fraudulent claim for health benefit and grand theft, with sentencing enhancement allegations for aggravated white-collar crime between $100,000 to $500,000 and aggravated white-collar crime exceeding $500,000.
Catalasan, who owns the Quality Care Pharmacy at 2413 S. Fairview St. in Santa Ana, was arrested on the charges on Tuesday, according to court records.
The defendant is accused of operating a “complex and secretive scheme” that bilked MediCal, Medicare and Cal Optima, the county’s insurance program for the needy, Deputy Attorney General Ryan Scott said in court papers.
An audit of financial records from January 2011 through July 2015 showed Catalasan received $1.8 million from the government health programs through “fraudulent claims she submitted for purportedly supplying prescription drugs to Medicare and MediCal recipients,” investigator Ernesto Cambrone alleged in court papers.
“The funds she stole were deposited and intermingled in her personal and business bank accounts,” Cambrone alleged in a court motion seeking to analyze any money the defendant posts for bail to determine if it came from the alleged criminal behavior.
The pharmacy’s clientele consisted of residents of 40 board and care facilities throughout Southern California, according to prosecutors.
Catalasan, who appeared in the jail courtroom in Santa Ana, asked for more time to seek an attorney prior to her arraignment, which was rescheduled for Monday.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: