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Tampa Bay Area Pharmacists Get Probation in Fraud Case

Pharmacists Satender Singh and Rajnish Mehta were sentenced to probation on Friday in a federal health insurance fraud case prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Tampa. Both Singh and Mehta previously pleaded guilty and received credit for cooperating with the investigation into federal health insurance fraud. The investigation is believed to be on-going and now includes numerous physicians.

Singh admittedly stole more than $99,000 from Tricare, the military health insurance program, and Medicaid. He was sentenced to five years of probation after pleading guilty to making false statements to a federal health care program.

According to the prosecution, Singh began committing fraud in 2005, when one of the Singh's superiors paid Mehta, an intern at a nearby chain drug store, for the names of that chain's pharmaceutical customers. The pharmacists paid $100 for each customer's information and then used the customer information to bill Tricare and Medicaid for prescriptions that did not exist.

Singh and Mehta later created the Pasco Pharmacy, where they periodically submitted fraudulent claims for prescriptions to Tricare and Medicaid.

Mehta was also sentenced to five years of probation and is required to pay over $180,000 in restitution to the federal government. He was represented by Bjorn Brunvand in the case including in plea negotiations and sentencing.

Three other pharmacists were also charged in the case. Two pleaded guilty and received relatively short prison sentences. The final defendant has not yet been tried or entered a guilty plea.

Both Singh and Mehta may now face deportation to their home country of India.

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