Mississippi pharmacist, Louisiana marketer plead guilty to $180M healthcare fraud scheme

State

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On Wednesday, a Mississippi pharmacist pled guilty for his role in a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud TRICARE and private insurance companies. A Louisiana marketer also pled guilty in the case on August 12.

The two are accused of paying kickbacks to distributors for the referral of medically unnecessary prescriptions. The conduct allegedly resulted in more than $180 million in fraudulent billings, including more than $50 million paid by federal healthcare programs. 

Court documents showed Mitchell “Chad” Barrett, 54, of Florida, and formerly of Mississippi, participated in a scheme to defraud TRICARE and other health care benefit programs by distributing medically unnecessary compounded medications. Barrett is licensed as a pharmacist in Mississippi and was a co-owner of various compounding pharmacies.

As part of this scheme, prosecutors said Barrett adjusted prescription formulas to ensure the highest reimbursement without regard to efficacy, and he solicited recruiters to procure prescriptions for high margin compounded medications and paid those recruiters commissions based on the percentage of reimbursements paid by pharmacy benefit managers and health care benefit programs, including commissions on claims reimbursed by TRICARE.

Prosecutors said Thomas “Tommy” Wilburn Shoemaker, 57, of Louisiana, participated in the scheme to defraud TRICARE and other health care benefit programs by acting as a marketer for Barrett’s pharmacies. They said Shoemaker allowed the pharmacies to use his TRICARE insurance to adjust prescription formulas to ensure the highest reimbursement without regard to efficacy, and he recruited doctors to procure prescriptions for high margin compounded medications.

Barrett pled guilty to conspiracy to engage in monetary transactions in criminally derived property. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. 

Shoemaker pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and solicit, receive, offer, and pay illegal kickbacks, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

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