Pharmacist sentenced to 10 years in health care fraud case

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FILE – This Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018 file photo shows an arrangement of aspirin pills in New York. A new study suggests millions of people need to rethink their use of aspirin to prevent a heart attack. If you’ve already had a heart attack, doctors recommend taking a low-dose aspirin a day to prevent a second one. But if you don’t yet have heart disease, doctors now advise routine aspirin can do more harm than good. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)

HATTIESBURG, Miss (AP) — A pharmacist has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in a $400 million pain cream fraud.

The Hattiesburg American reports 51-year-old Thomas Spell Jr. of Ridgeland was sentenced Thursday.

Spell pleaded guilty to filing more than $243 million in false claims with TRICARE, the health benefits program for the military.

Prosecutors said it was part of a scheme of prescribing unneeded pain creams to bilk insurers.

U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst has said the case is part of the largest health care fraud scheme ever prosecuted in Mississippi.

In addition to Spell, 11 people pleaded guilty and one was convicted at trial for their roles in the

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