By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On September 27, 2022, a Florida pharmacy owner pled guilty to conspiring to commit healthcare fraud in an $8.3 million scheme. The scheme involved securing orders for medically unnecessary prescriptions billed to Medicare and paying bribes and kickbacks, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced. Read the DOJ’s press release here. Read the DOJ’s press release here.
The Fraudulent Scheme.
Michael Murphy allegedly invested in Cure Pharmacy in Jacksonville, Florida, and two other pharmacies participated in the Medicare program. From around November 2019 through March 2021, the government alleged, Murphy and his co-conspirators paid kickbacks and bribes to telemarketing companies to recruit Medicare beneficiaries to accept prescriptions for various medications. According to court documents, the medicines were mainly topical creams, which the beneficiaries usually did not want or need.
Additionally, they paid kickbacks and bribes to telemedicine companies that employed or contracted with physicians who signed the prescriptions. According to court documents, the physicians typically signed the prescriptions after a cursory telephone conversation or without contact with beneficiaries. After obtaining Medicare beneficiary information and the signed medications, the pharmacy owner and co-conspirators submitted claims to Medicare, sometimes through multiple pharmacies they owned and controlled in practice known as “recycling.”
In total, they were reimbursed $8.3 million by Medicare Part D.
The Repercussions of the Guilty Plea to Conspiracy to Commit Health Care Fraud.
Murphy pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison. According to the DOJ, a federal district court judge will determine his actual sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
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American Health Law Association. “Pharmacy Owner Pleads Guilty in $8.3 Million Fraud Scheme.” AHLA Health Law Weekly. (September 30, 2022). Web.
“Pharmacy Owner Pleads Guilty in $8.3 Million Fraud Scheme.” Bloomburg Law. (September 30, 2022). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620. Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.
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