Mississippi Physician Sentenced to Over Three Years in Prison for Role in $3 Million Compounding Pharmacy Fraud Scheme

June 7, 2018

A Biloxi, Mississippi physician was sentenced today to 42 months in prison for his involvement in a $3 million compounding pharmacy fraud scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney D. Michael Hurst Jr. of the Southern District of Mississippi; Special Agent in Charge Christopher Freeze of the FBI’s Jackson, Mississippi Field Division; Acting Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Holloman III of IRS Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) New Orleans Field Office and Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s (DCIS) Southeast Field Office made the announcement.

Albert Diaz, M.D., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett of the Southern District of Mississippi.  Restitution to TRICARE and other insurance companies will be determined at a later date. On March 2 after a five-day jury trial, Diaz was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, four counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to distribute and dispense a controlled substance, four counts of distributing and dispensing a controlled substance, one count of conspiracy to falsify records in a federal investigation and five counts of falsification of records in a federal investigation.

According to evidence presented at trial, between 2014 and 2015, Diaz participated in a scheme to defraud TRICARE and other insurance companies by prescribing medically unnecessary compounded medications, some of which included ketamine, a controlled substance, to individuals he had not examined.  The evidence further demonstrated that, based on the prescriptions signed by Diaz, Advantage Pharmacy in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, dispensed these medically unnecessary compounded medications and sought and received reimbursement from TRICARE and other insurance companies totaling more than $3 million. The trial evidence further demonstrated that in response to a TRICARE audit, Diaz falsified patient records to make it appear as though he had examined patients before prescribing the medications.

The FBI, IRS-CI, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and other government agencies investigated the case.  Trial Attorneys Kate Payerle and Jared Hasten of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Helen Wall of the Southern District of Mississippi are prosecuting the case.

The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.  The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations nationwide.  Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged over 3,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $12.5 billion.

Jury Convicts Former CIA Officer of Espionage

June 8, 2018

Today, a federal jury convicted Kevin Patrick Mallory, 61, a former Central Intelligence Agency case officer of Leesburg, Virginia, on espionage charges related to his transmission of classified documents to an agent of the People’s Republic of China.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger for the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Nancy McNamara of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III accepted the verdict.

“It is a sad day when an American citizen is convicted of spying on behalf of a foreign power,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “This act of espionage was no isolated incident.  The People’s Republic of China has made a sophisticated and concerted effort to steal our nation’s secrets.  Today’s conviction demonstrates that we remain vigilant against this threat and hold accountable all those who put the United States at risk through espionage.”

“There are few crimes in this country more serious than espionage,” said U.S. Attorney Terwilliger.  “This office has a long history of holding those accountable who betray their country and try and profit off of classified information. This case should send a message to anyone considering violating the public’s trust and compromising our national security by disclosing classified information. We will remain steadfast and dogged in pursuit of these challenging but critical national security cases.”

“This trial highlights a serious threat to U.S. national security,” said Assistant Director in Charge McNamara.  “Foreign intelligence agents are targeting former U.S. Government security clearance holders in order to recruit them and steal our secrets. This case should send a message to foreign intelligence services and those caught up in their web: we are watching and we will investigate and prosecute those who willfully violate their obligations to protect national security secrets. I want to start by thanking the prosecutors of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the trial attorneys of the Justice Department and particularly the special agents, analysts and professional staff of the FBI’s Washington Field Office for their hard work.”

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, in March and April 2017, Mallory travelled to Shanghai and met with an individual, Michael Yang, whom he quickly concluded was working for the People’s Republic of China Intelligence Service (PRCIS).  During a voluntary interview with FBI agents on May 24, 2007, Mallory stated that Yang represented himself as working for a People’s Republic of China think tank, however Mallory stated that he assessed Yang to be a Chinese Intelligence Officer.

Mallory, a U.S. citizen who speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, told FBI agents he travelled to Shanghai in March and April to meet with Yang and Yang’s boss.  After Mallory consented to a review of a covert communications (covcom) device he had been given by Yang in order to communicate covertly with Yang, FBI agents viewed a message from Mallory to Yang in which Mallory stated that he could come in the middle of June and he could bring the remainder of the documents with him at that time.  Analysis of the device, which was a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, also revealed a handwritten index describing eight different documents later determined to be classified.  Four of the eight documents listed in the index were found stored on the device, with three being confirmed as containing classified information pertaining to the same U.S. government agency.  One of those documents was classified TOP SECRET, while the remaining two documents were classified SECRET.  FBI analysts were able to determine that Mallory had completed all of the steps necessary to securely transmit at least four documents via the covcom device, one of which contained unique identifiers for human sources who had helped the U.S. government.

Evidence presented at trial included surveillance video from a FedEx store in Leesburg where Mallory could be seen scanning the eight classified documents and a handwritten table of contents onto a micro SD card.  Though Mallory shredded the paper copies of the eight documents, an SD card containing those documents and table of contents was later found carefully concealed in his house when it was searched on June 22, 2017, the date of his arrest.  A recording was played at trial from June 24, 2017, where Mallory could be heard on a call from the jail calling his family to ask them to search for the SD card.

Mallory has held numerous positions with various government agencies and several defense contractors, including working as a covert case officer for the CIA and an intelligence officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency.  As required for his various government positions, Mallory obtained a Top Secret security clearance, which was active during various assignments during his career.  Mallory’s security clearance was terminated in October 2012 when he left government service.

Mallory was convicted of conspiracy to deliver, attempted delivery, delivery of defense information to aid a foreign government, and making material false statements.  He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison when sentenced on Sept. 21.  The statutory maximum penalty is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys John T. Gibbs and Colleen E. Garcia of the Eastern District of Virginia, and Trial Attorney Jennifer Kennedy Gellie of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.

Mississippi Real Estate Investors Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Rig Bids at Public Foreclosure Auctions

April 10, 2018

Real estate investors Kevin Moore, Chad Nichols, and Terry Tolar pleaded guilty today for their roles in a conspiracy to rig bids at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Mississippi, the Department of Justice announced.

Including Moore, Nichols, and Tolar, five real estate investors have pleaded guilty in this conspiracy. Separate felony charges against Moore, Nichols, and Tolar were filed on April 3, 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

“Today’s guilty pleas send a strong signal that the Division will prosecute and hold accountable those who conspire to corrupt the competitive process and harm the American consumer,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “We extend our thanks to our law enforcement partners, with whom we will continue to investigate bid-rigging crimes in Mississippi—and throughout the United States.”

“Individuals who harm homeowners and defraud companies by cheating our foreclosure system to enrich themselves will face swift and certain criminal prosecution in Mississippi,” said United States Attorney D. Michael Hurst, Jr. for the Southern District of Mississippi. “I applaud the FBI and the Antitrust Division for their tenacity and perseverance in pursuing these criminal actions and shutting this illegal scheme down.”

“Violations of the Sherman Act not only impact America’s financial institutions and distressed homeowners but also damage our free market society as a whole,” said Special Agent in Charge Christopher Freeze of the FBI in Mississippi. “We hope that others participating in this type of corruption understand that the FBI and Department of Justice will continue to protect Americans from price fixing and bid rigging that harm our economy.”

According to court documents, from at least as early as January 12, 2012, through at least as late as April 19, 2017, Moore conspired with others to rig bids, designating a winning bidder to obtain selected properties at public real estate foreclosure auctions in the Southern District of Mississippi. Nichols participated in the conspiracy from as early as April 14, 2010, through as late as February 25, 2015, and Tolar’s participation began as early as January 12, 2012, through as late as March 31, 2017. Co-conspirators made and received payoffs in exchange for their agreement not to bid.

The Department said that the primary purpose of the conspiracy was to suppress and restrain competition in order to obtain selected real estate offered at public foreclosure auctions at non-competitive prices. When real estate properties are sold at these auctions, the proceeds are used to pay off the mortgage and other debt attached to the property, with any remaining proceeds paid to the homeowner. According to court documents, these conspirators paid and received money in connection with their agreement to suppress competition, which artificially lowered the price paid at auction for such homes.

A violation of the Sherman Act carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals. The maximum fine for a Sherman Act charge may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime if either amount is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

The investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal II Section and the FBI’s Gulfport Resident Agency, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi. Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact Antitrust Division prosecutors in the Washington Criminal II Section at 202-598-4000, or visit https://www.justice.gov/atr/report-violations.