Investigators say the 44-year-old man was an undisclosed co-owner of a pharmacy in Miami that he and other co-conspirators allegedly used to fraudulently bill Medicare for drugs that were never ordered by a doctor and never dispensed. In order to accomplish this feat, investigators say he and his co-conspirators paid kickbacks to Medicare recruiters for referrals, which is a practice that is illegal as well.
Last week U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro of the Southern District of Florida sentenced the man to 46 months in federal prison. In addition, Ungaro ordered the man to reimburse $2,507,942 to Medicaid jointly and severally with the co-conspirators, and to forfeit an identical amount.
The Miami Lakes man is one of six individuals charged in the alleged scheme. Two of the pharmacy’s other owners, a 55-year-old man from Miramar and a 40-year-old woman from Doral pled guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud this spring and were sentenced to 63 and 57 months in prison, respectively. A 40-year-old Miami woman pled guilty to conspiracy to receive kickbacks and was sentenced to 21 months in prison. A 65-year-old woman from Homestead pled guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and a fourth owner of the pharmacy was indicted earlier this year but remains at large.
The charges are the result of an investigation by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is a collaboration between the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) and the Department of Justice. To date, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged almost 4,000 defendants for allegedly fraudulently charging over $14 billion to Medicare.