Mississippi Businessman Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison For $288 Million Tricare Fraud Scheme
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On January 15, 2021, a Mississippi man was sentenced to 18 years in prison by a federal judge for his role in a $287.6 million scheme to defraud the Tricare health benefits program. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), he committed fraud by paying doctors and drug distributors kickbacks.
What is Tricare?
Tricare is the health care benefit program serving active-duty military personnel, military retirees, and their dependents worldwide. The program provides comprehensive coverage to all beneficiaries, including health plans, special programs, prescriptions, and dental plans. Learn more about Tricare here.
Conspiracy to Commit Health Care Fraud and Money Laundering.
In July 2020, he pled guilty to orchestrating a $287.6 million scheme to defraud Tricare by paying doctors and drug distributors kickbacks. The kickbacks were in exchange for unnecessary compounded medication prescriptions sent to his pharmacies. He admitted to tampering with drug formulas and bribing doctors to authorize prescriptions to rake in reimbursements from the federal benefits program. Read the complaint in full.
More Details of the Fraud Scheme.
According to the government, from 2012 to 2016, he used marketing companies, drug distributors, and compounding pharmacies that he owned to contract with other pharmacies to provide prescriptions for the medications.
He admitted to creating prescription pads with the drug formulas for doctors to push the expensive drugs onto patients easily. In exchange for participating in the fraud, doctors got a cut of the pharmacy benefits managers and programs’ reimbursements.
Additionally, he and his co-conspirators conducted illegal wire transfers of millions of dollars in illegally obtained cash to various companies and bank accounts. The government said he personally obtained more than $40 million from the scheme.
As part of his plea agreement, he is ordered to forfeit more than $50 million worth of property, luxury cars, and an airplane. He was also ordered Friday by U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett of the Southern District of Mississippi to pay $287,659,569 in restitution. Click here to view the plea agreement.
To read about a similar Tricare fraud case in Florida, click here to read one of my prior blogs.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.
The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists, pharmacies, doctors, and medical groups in DEA, DOH, FDA, OIG, and DOJ investigations, qui tam and whistleblower cases, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, administrative hearings, inspections, and audits. The Firm also represents both plaintiffs (whistleblowers or relators) and defendants in False Claims Act (whistleblower or qui tam) cases. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board-certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.
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Clough, Craig. “Miss. Businessman Gets 18 Years For $288M Tricare Fraud.” Law360. (January 15, 2021). Web.
Stawicki, Kevin. “Miss. Businessman Pleads Guilty To $288M Tricare Fraud.” Law360. (July 10, 2020). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law is an attorney with 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, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or toll-free: (888) 331-6620.
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