Is your Neighborhood Pharmacist a Crook?

Some are, but maybe not your local friendly, helpful health professional!

sessions and weed
You can bet the drug industry and the Medicare fraudsters were happy to see Sessions out as Attorney General

A little over six months ago, then Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a major federal crackdown on doctors, pharmacists and other health providers for fueling the opioid crisis and using your Medicare and Medicaid dollars to line their pockets.

Here is a bit of one story about Sessions’ announcement.

From State News June 28, 2018:

Federal agencies on Thursday announced charges in what Attorney General Jeff Sessions called “the largest health care fraud takedown in American history,” an investigation into over $2 billion in alleged fraud by doctors, pharmacists, and nurses.

Many of the allegations centered on illegitimate opioid prescriptions. The Justice Department charged 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, for their roles dispensing opioids and narcotics, the result of investigations spanning 30 state Medicaid programs and numerous enforcement agencies.

[….]

“Some of our most trusted medical officials, professionals, look at their patients, vulnerable people suffering from addiction, and they see dollar signs,” Sessions said.

The alleged fraud and false billings collectively accounted for 13 million illegal opioid dosages, the Justice Department said, and also included 23 pharmacists and 19 nurses.

The Department of Health and Human Services also announced that since July 2017, it has excluded over 2,700 individuals and 587 providers from Medicare and Medicaid “for conduct related to opioid diversion and abuse” — including 67 doctors, 402 nurses, and 40 pharmacy services.

More here.

Here are a couple of more recent cases of Pharmacy fraud

Don’t miss my post from last week about Pharmacist Haytham “Tom” Fakih in Dearborn, Michigan.

Florida Fraudster

From a Justice Department Press release in December, here.

The owner of a Miami, Florida-area pharmacy who caused Medicare to pay more than $8.4 million over a six-year period for prescription drugs that were never provided to beneficiaries was sentenced today to 87 months in prison.

[….]

Antonio Perez Jr., 48, of Miami Beach, Florida, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno of the Southern District of Florida, who also ordered Perez to pay $8,415,824 in restitution and to forfeit the same amount. Perez was ordered to forfeit four Miami-area properties worth approximately $700,000 and multiple bank accounts totaling over $250,000. Perez previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

[….]

During the course of the scheme, Medicare paid Valles Pharmacy Discount over $32 million, of which at least $8.4 million was for prescription drugs that Valles Pharmacy never purchased and never provided to Medicare beneficiaries, Perez admitted.

 

ahktmar-pharmacy
The owner of Akhtamar Pharmacy will be sentenced in February.

 

California case

Also in December a federal jury found Pharmacist Tamar Tatarian, 39, of Pasadena, California guilty of a Medicare fraud scheme after she billed Medicare $1.3 million for drugs she never purchased or distributed.

You will be interested to see that she was one of those caught in Sessions’ big sweep earlier this year.

Tatarian, the owner of Akhtamar Pharmacy, will be sentenced next month.

 

question markSecret decoder ring at work!  Tatarian must be Armenian. See the Legend of Akhtamar.  My reference to Secret decoder ring comes from Ann Coulter’s ‘Adios America’ where she rightly points out that readers of news stories about crooks and criminals must search for clues about where the alleged perp might come from and how he/she got in to the country.
Exception!  See yesterday’s post about the Russians ripping off Washington staters! There the reporter actually says where those arrested were from.

 

Ho Hum! More Home Health Care Fraud: Minnesota “Man” Rips-off State for $260,000

keith ellison twitter
So will AG Ellison go after frauds like this one? (This is Ellison’s twitter pic.)

As Minnesota’s Attorney General Lori Swanson turns the office over to Keith Ellison, the Grand Forks Herald reports that  charges have been brought against a Minnesota man who is “alleged to have defrauded the state medical assistance program out of more than $260,000.”

Swanson says Abdi Ali Gure of Bloomington submitted false claims for personal care assistance that were never delivered during a two year period—2013-2015.

Gure faces seven counts of theft.

A charging document alleges that Gure was an owner of Diversified Home Care, Inc., which was enrolled in the Medicaid program as a personal care provider organization. Kyle Nessen, an investigator with the office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, said Guresubmitted false claims to the state and ran various schemes through the organization. The investigator alleged that Gure received $260,897.52 to which he wasn’t entitled.

 

And that money benefitted Gure and his family, Nessen said, with Gure paying himself, his wife and his son more than $750,000 between 2011 and 2016.

Very interesting that I could only find mention of this story in small newspapers in Minnesota.  If anyone finds the charging documents or even a press statement about it, please send me a link!

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Putting Ann Coulter’s “secret decoder ring” to good use we can say for near certainty that Abdi Ali Gure is a Somali ‘new American.’ Refugee? Probably, because almost all Somalis in the US came here through the US State Department’s Refugee Admissions Program with Minnesota being the top resettlement location.

 

Are “New American” Doctors Fueling the Opioid Crisis?

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No bond for Dr. Rajendra Bothra

Surely some of the doctors who prescribe unnecessary pain medications and hook hundreds of thousands of Americans on drugs are American born and bred, but check out this story from Michigan in December.

Not only did these ‘new American’ doctors and health professionals turn unsuspecting Americans into drug addicts, but they did it by using your taxpayer dollars in multi-million dollar fraud schemes involving Medicare and Medicaid.

They got rich destroying lives!

And, when they got caught, many fled the country!

From the Detroit News:

Rich and on the run: Doctors flee country amid fraud, opioid crackdown

Detroit — More than a dozen doctors and medical professionals charged with federal crimes locally have fled the country in recent years amid a federal crackdown on illegal opioid use and health care fraud.

Prosecutors used the fugitive status of 16 medical professionals who have fled since 2011 to keep Dr. Rajendra Bothra jailed Wednesday while he awaits trial in a nearly $500 million conspiracy, one of the largest health care fraud cases in U.S. history.

Here is a bit more, but please read the shocking story!

The medical professionals who have fled for overseas destinations including Jordan, Pakistan and Egypt in recent years have two things in common: foreign ties and big bank accounts that have financed flights from justice. In Bothra’s case, he has eight siblings in India and amassed a $35 million fortune and vast-real estate holdings, including a $1.99 million island estate.

 

Screenshot (822)
The Detroit News did a great service by publishing this list of Detroit doctors/medical professionals who have left the country to avoid prosecution. Too bad those last two columns are blank!

 

More here.

In case you have forgotten, last summer then Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the largest healthcare bust of Medicare and Medicaid fraud scammers in US history and linked it to the opioid crisis.

Medicare Fraud Strike Force

To help find and prosecute frauds and crooks, the feds established the Medicare Fraud Strike Force involving a coordinated effort between the Fraud Section of the US Justice Department, US Attorney’s offices, the FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General and local law enforcement.

I bet you’ve never even heard of it because the national media rarely (if ever!) mentions its work, which the Strike Force says has resulted in successful prosecutions of 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion.

In addition to the Detroit area, the Strike Force is operating in 12 locations around the US: Miami, FL, Los Angeles, CA, Houston, TX, Brooklyn, NY, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, LA, Tampa and Orlando, FL, Chicago, IL, Dallas, TX, Washington, DC, Newark, NJ, Philadelphia, PA and the Appalachian Region.

question mark

I wonder why these huge Medicare and Medicaid fraud stories never seem to be front page news across the country and why aren’t they widely reported by cable news?

 

 

Michigan: Complaint filed against Sonic Drive-in Owner for Defrauding Medicare and Medicaid to the Tune of $1.2 Million

 

Editor: This is the first of several such stories I have lined up to report from Michigan!

I can’t say this better than the Detroit News says it,

A Dearborn pharmacist, hailed earlier this year for opening the nation’s first halal-certified Sonic Drive-In restaurant, cheated Medicare and Medicaid by charging for medication prescribed to dead people, according to federal prosecutors.

Trudell Pharmacy owner Haytham “Tom” Fakih also committed health care fraud by billing for expensive medication that was not dispensed to patients, prosecutors alleged in a criminal complaint filed against the pharmacist in federal court Sunday. In all, the fraud cost more than $1.2 million, authorities allege.

[….]

The investigation emerged publicly in September when federal agents seized more than $350,000 during a series of raids that happened five months after Fakih staged a ribbon-cutting ceremony at his Sonic Drive-In restaurant with Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. and other community leaders.

Sonic ribbon-cutting

 

Sonic drive in opening
The bearded guy in the middle is Dearborn’s mayor with “Tom” Fakih on his right. Photo is from the Press and Review story about the grand opening of Sonic’s Halal fast food restaurant.

 

In April of last year Fakih, 53, opened a halal drive-in restaurant to much fanfare, says a Press and Guide report,

Representatives from the city, the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce, local religious organizations, Dearborn Public Schools, the American Arab Chamber of Commerce and friends of franchise owner Tom Fakih came out to support the new business during its celebration on Wednesday. Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. cut the ribbon…

The offerings showed off the halal options that make the Dearborn location unique. It is the only Sonic in the country to offer them.

According to the Detroit News,

On Sunday, Fakih was released on $10,000 unsecured bond after making an initial appearance in federal court. If convicted, he could spend up to 10 years in prison.

More at the Detroit News.

*Note* a charge by the government is not a determination of guilt.

More tomorrow about Michigan!

question mark

I suppose I could do some digging to find out more about Fakih, apparently a well-established and well-connected businessman in Dearborn, but news reports don’t mention his nationality or anything else about him.