United States Attorney General Merrick Garland speaking on June 22, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | fake images
He Justice Department announced Wednesday that it recently indicted 78 people with $2.5 billion in separate health care fraud and opioid abuse schemes.
The defendants allegedly defrauded programs used to care for the elderly and disabled and, in some cases, used the ill-gotten money to buy exotic cars, jewelry and yachts, the Justice Department said.
Among the defendants are 11 defendants with filing $2 billion in fraudulent claims via telemedicine, as well as 10 defendants in connection with fraudulent prescription drug claims.
In total, prosecutors brought charges against people in 16 states in cases that were filed or disclosed in the past two weeks as part of the coordinated crackdown.
The defendants include “physicians and other licensed medical professionals who lined their pockets, including doctors who allegedly put their patients at risk by illegally providing them with opioids they didn’t need,” the Justice Department said in a news release.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement: “These enforcement actions, including against one of the largest health care fraud schemes ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice, represent our intensified efforts to combat fraud and prosecute the people who benefit from it.
In the scheme cited by Garland, executives from alleged software and services companies submitted $1.9 billion in fraudulent claims to Medicare for items that were not eligible for reimbursement, according to the Justice Department.
Defendants in that case include Brett Blackman and Gregory Schreck of Johnson County, Kansas, and Gary Cox of Maricopa County, Arizona, who allegedly used massive telemarketing operations to sell expensive and unnecessary drugs and medications to the elderly and disabled. , according to an indictment in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
The trio allegedly operated a software platform called DMERx that generated false and fraudulent doctor orders in exchange for illegal kickbacks and kickbacks.
Cox was the CEO of the company that originally operated the software behind the fraud scheme. He subsequently sold the platform to a company where Black was CEO and Schreck was vice president of business development.
The defendants allegedly received payments for forwarding fraudulent prescriptions and medical orders to pharmacies, vendors and telemarketers, according to the indictment. The orders and prescriptions claimed that the doctors had examined or treated the patients when in fact the alleged telemedicine companies paid the doctors to sign the documents, the indictment alleges.
In many cases, the doctors only had a brief phone call with the patients or did not interact at all, according to the indictment. In an effort to hide the scheme, the defendants allegedly removed references to telemedicine in the orders.
In a separate case, the Justice Department also charged Steven Diamantstein, owner of Scripts Wholesale Inc., with a $150 million fraud scheme involving HIV drugs.
Diamantstein, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, allegedly bought HIV drugs at a deep discount from people who obtained the pills illegally by paying patients in cash and packaging them for sale.
Diamentstein then falsely claimed that his company had obtained the drugs through legal channels, according to an indictment filed in the US District Court in New Jersey.
The Justice Department also charged 24 physicians and medical professionals in cases involving $150 million in false billing related to the illegal distribution of opioids and laboratory test fraud.