Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces $13.4 Million Settlement Of Civil Healthcare Fraud Lawsuit Against US Bioservices Corp.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Scott J. Lampert, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General for the New York Region (“HHS-OIG”), announced that the United States has settled a civil fraud case against US BIOSERVICES CORP. (“US BIO”) pursuant to which US BIO will pay a total of $13.4 million. The settlement resolves claims that US BIO violated the Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act by participating in a kickback scheme with Novartis PharmaceuticalS Corp. (“Novartis”) relating to the NOVARTIS drug Exjade. Specifically, the United States’ Complaint alleges that US BIO and NOVARTIS entered into a kickback arrangement pursuant to which US BIO was promised additional patient referrals and related benefits in return for refilling a higher percentage of Exjade than the two other pharmacies that also dispensed Exjade. The settlement will also resolve numerous state law civil fraud claims.

Yesterday, Chief U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon approved a settlement stipulation to resolve the Government’s claims against US BIO. Under the settlement, US BIO is required to pay approximately $10.6 million to the United States and has made extensive admissions regarding its conduct. Further, as part of the settlement, US BIO will pay approximately $2.8 million to resolve the state law civil fraud claims. In prior lawsuits, the Government sued NOVARTIS and the two other pharmacies that participated in this same Exjade kickback scheme. The Government settled those lawsuits, pursuant to which NOVARTIS paid $390 million, the two other pharmacies paid $75 million, and NOVARTIS and the pharmacies made extensive admissions regarding their conduct.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “The integrity of the federal healthcare system requires that all providers, including pharmacies like US Bioservices, refrain from entering into kickback relationships. When healthcare providers accept kickbacks, they violate the law, subject what should be health-based decision-making to the influence of profit-seeking drug manufacturers, and thereby put their own financial interests ahead of the interests of their patients. This Office will continue to use its law enforcement tools to pursue healthcare providers who accept kickbacks or otherwise put their profits ahead of patient safety.”

HHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert said: “The conduct displayed by US Bioservices compromised patient care and undermined the integrity of our nation’s health care programs. This settlement should serve as a warning to all providers that choose to let financial inducements cloud their medical judgment.”

As alleged in the Government’s Complaint, US BIO participated in a kickback scheme with NOVARTIS that violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act. In connection with this scheme, US BIO submitted claims for thousands of Exjade prescriptions to Medicare and Medicaid, causing those programs to pay out millions of dollars for false claims tainted by kickbacks. As part of the settlement, US BIO admitted as follows:

  • In December 2005, US BIO signed a contract with Novartis relating to the distribution of Exjade. Under that contract, Novartis agreed that US BIO would be one of three specialty pharmacies (the “EPASS pharmacies”) permitted to dispense Exjade as part of Novartis’s EPASS network. US BIO, in turn, agreed to provide specialty pharmacy services to Exjade patients, including having clinical staff available to speak with patients and to answer clinical questions or concerns about Exjade.
  • In or about June 2007, Novartis began issuing monthly “Exjade Scorecards” to US BIO and the other two EPASS pharmacies that measured, among other things, the pharmacies’ “adherence” scores. The “adherence” score in the Exjade Scorecards showed how long Exjade patients continued to order refills, without excluding patients who stopped ordering refills due to side effects or patients who were directed to stop therapy by their physicians. Starting in or about July 2007, Novartis had discussions with US BIO regarding how US BIO could improve its “adherence” scores in the Exjade Scorecards.
  • In late 2007 and early 2008, and to improve its “adherence” score, US BIO trained its nurses to call Exjade patients and tell patients that not treating iron overload, for which Exjade is prescribed, could have severe consequences like organ failure, and that while Exjade had certain common side effects like diarrhea, such side effects typically went away with time. The nurses at US BIO did not use written scripts for the calls with Exjade patients.
  • In October 2008, Novartis implemented a new plan for allocating Exjade patient referrals among US BIO and the other EPASS pharmacies. Under that plan, Novartis would allocate 60% of all undesignated patient referrals to the EPASS pharmacy with the top “adherence” scores in the Exjade Scorecards and allocate 20% of the undesignated patient referrals to each of the other two EPASS pharmacies.

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Mr. Kim thanked HHS-OIG and the Medicaid Fraud Control Units for New York, Washington, and California for their investigative efforts and assistance with this case.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Li Yu and Mónica P. Folch are in charge of the case.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Civil Suit And Criminal Charges Against Pharmacy Owner For Allegedly Defrauding Medicaid Of Millions

Hin T. Wong Allegedly Paid Patients Kickbacks And Billed Medicaid For HIV Medications Never Dispensed

Defendant Allegedly Used Money Stolen From Medicaid To Fund Personal Expenses, Including Travel And Furniture 

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a lawsuit and criminal charges against pharmacist Hin T. Wong, 49, of Manhattan, and NY Pharmacy, Inc. (“NY Pharmacy”) for allegedly defrauding the New York State Medicaid program out of millions of dollars. Wong, a licensed pharmacist and owner of NY Pharmacy, located at 131 Walker Street in Manhattan, allegedly paid undercover agents posing as Medicaid recipients kickbacks for HIV prescriptions and for referring other Medicaid recipients to bring their prescriptions to NY Pharmacy. Wong and NY Pharmacy also allegedly billed and were eventually paid over $60,0000 by Medicaid for refills on prescriptions submitted by undercover agents that NY Pharmacy either did not dispense or were predicated on the payment of a kickback.   Various state laws and Medicaid regulations prohibit the payment of kickbacks for the referral of patients or individual prescriptions. In addition, the  Attorney General also announced the filing of a civil asset forfeiture action seeking over $11 million in damages from Wong, NY Pharmacy and two other pharmacies owned by Wong that are now closed.

“Stealing from Medicaid in order to purchase fancy accessories and travel tickets is absolutely shameful,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We will not allow Medicaid to serve as a personal piggy bank for criminals. Fraudsters who seek to rip-off this vital program that helps millions of New Yorkers will be held accountable.”

The on-going investigation into NY Pharmacy being conducted by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (“MFCU”) revealed that on multiple occasions between July 2014 and August 2017, Wong allegedly paid kickbacks to undercover MFCU agents posing as patients to fill prescriptions, most of which involved medication to treat HIV, at NY Pharmacy or at two other pharmacies she owned, which are now closed.  The defendants thereafter allegedly submitted claims for reimbursement to Medicaid through NY Pharmacy for refills that were not dispensed by the pharmacy, a scheme known as “auto-refilling.”

Simultaneous to today’s arrest, the Attorney General filed a civil asset forfeiture action against Wong, NY Pharmacy, and Wong’s two closed pharmacies in New York State Supreme Court, New York County seeking over $11 million in damages.  In papers filed in court today, the Attorney General alleges that Wong personally made millions from the scheme and used the proceeds, among other things, to make lavish credit card purchases of high-end retail items (including Prada and Vuitton), and to pay for travel expenses and expensive furniture. An investigational audit uncovered evidence indicating that Wong’s pharmacies did not purchase enough medication to support their substantial billings to Medicaid. Between January 1, 2014 and August 1, 2017, Wong’s pharmacies billed Medicaid and other insurers over $15 million for medications, but allegedly purchased only a fraction of the amount of drugs necessary to fill those prescriptions. As part of the civil action, the Attorney General also obtained a court order freezing the bank accounts held by the defendants to preserve money wrongfully obtained from Medicaid.

Investigators from the Attorney General’s Office with the assistance of investigators from the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General executed a search warrant this morning at NY Pharmacy. Hin T. Wong and NY Pharmacy were arrested and charged by felony complaint filed in New York City Criminal Court, New York County with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, and Medical Assistance Provider: Prohibited Practices (Kickbacks), a class E felony. Wong is expected to be arraigned later this afternoon. If convicted on the top count, Wong faces up to seven years in state prison. Wong may face additional criminal charges as the criminal investigation continues.

The Attorney General thanks the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General under the leadership of Inspector General Dennis Rosen for its continued partnership and its assistance in this investigation.  The Attorney General also thanks Medicaid managed care insurers Amida Care and Metro Plus for referring the matter and for their cooperation throughout the investigation.

The charges against the defendants are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

MFCU’s investigation was conducted by Investigator Nefertiti Clarke with the assistance of Supervising Investigator Dominick DiGennaro and Deputy Chief Investigator Kenneth Morgan. The audit investigation was conducted by Principal Auditor Investigator Cristina Marin and Auditor Investigator Megan Scott with the assistance of New York City Regional Deputy Chief Auditor Jonathan Romano and New York City Regional Chief Auditor Thomasina Smith.

The criminal case is being prosecuted by Special Counsel Imran S. Ahmed with the assistance of MFCU New York City Deputy Regional Director Twan Bounds and MFCU New York City Regional Director Christopher M. Shaw. The civil action is being brought by Senior Counsel Marie Spencer and Special Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Kappakas with the assistance of MFCU Chief of Civil Enforcement Carolyn Ellis.  Special Assistant Attorney General Thomas O’Hanlon is the MFCU Chief of Criminal Investigations-Downstate. MFCU is led by Director Amy Held and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Paul J. Mahoney.

Chairman of a Macau Real Estate Development Company Convicted on All Counts for Role in Scheme to Bribe United Nations Ambassadors to Build a Multi-Billion Dollar Conference Center

Friday, July 28, 2017

Yesterday, a federal jury convicted the chairman of a real estate development company for his role in a scheme to bribe United Nations ambassadors to obtain support to build a conference center in Macau that would host, among other events, the annual United Nations Global South-South Development Expo.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim of the Southern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office and Chief Don Fort of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) made the announcement.

After a four week trial, Ng Lap Seng, a/k/a “David Ng,” 69, of Macau, China, was convicted of two counts of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, one count of paying bribes and gratuities, one count of money laundering and two counts of conspiracy. No sentencing date has been set.

“The defendant’s corrupt activities were all the more egregious and shameful as he tried to hide his bribes as philanthropy,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco. “Corruption is a disease that has a corrosive effect on the rule of law everywhere and harms good people throughout the world. The Department is steadfast in its mission to aggressively investigate and prosecute bribery in all its forms, and vigorously protect the rule of law.”

“In his unbridled pursuit of even greater personal fortune, billionaire Ng Lap Seng corrupted the highest levels of the United Nations,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kim. “Through bribes and no show jobs, Ng turned leaders of the league of nations into his private band of profiteers. Ng’s journey from a Macau real estate mogul to convicted felon should serve as a cautionary tale to all tempted to follow his path. If you bring corruption to New York – whether to the State Capitol in Albany or to the halls of the U.N. General Assembly – your journey may very well end in a Manhattan federal courtroom, with a unanimous jury announcing your guilt.”

“Ng’s bribery scheme began at the intersection where business and intergovernmental matters overlap,” said Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney, Jr. He may have thought this was a good place to start, but it’s doubtful this was the ending he had in mind. This case is nothing more than an example of corruption in its purest form, and we’ve proven once again that no individual or organization is powerful enough to be immune from prosecution.”

“Today’s conviction is a result of untangling a global labyrinth of complex financial transactions used by Seng to facilitate bribes to foreign officials,” said Chief Fort. “IRS-CI has become a trusted leader in pursuit of those who use corruption as their business model to circumvent the law. CI is committed to maintaining fair competition, free of corrupt practices, through a dynamic synthesis of global teamwork and our robust financial investigative talents.”

According to the evidence presented at trial, Ng, the chairman of the Sun Kian Ip Group, conspired with and paid bribes to Francis Lorenzo, a former UN Ambassador from the Dominican Republic, and John W. Ashe, the late former Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the UN and the 68th President of the UN General Assembly (“UNGA”). With the assistance of Jeff C. Yin, an accountant and co-conspirator who worked with Ng and others and previously pleaded guilty, Ng orchestrated a scheme with the principal objective of obtaining the formal support of the UN for a multi-billion dollar facility that Ng hoped to build in Macau using the Sun Kian Ip Group (the “Macau Conference Center”). Ng wanted the Macau Conference Center to serve as a location for meetings, discussions, forums, and other events associated with the UN. In particular, he wanted it to serve as the permanent home of the annual “Global South-South Development Expo,” which is run by the UN Office for South-South Cooperation, and is hosted in a different country or city every year.

The trial evidence further showed that Ng bribed Ambassador Ashe and Ambassador Lorenzo (together, the “Ambassadors”) in exchange for their agreement to use their official positions to advance Ng’s interest in obtaining formal UN support for the Macau Conference Center. As the evidence demonstrated at trial, Ng paid the Ambassadors in a variety of forms. For example, Ng appointed Ambassador Lorenzo as the President of South-South News, a New York-based organization — funded by Ng — which described itself as a media platform dedicated to advancing the implementation of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, a set of philanthropic goals. Ng provided bribe payments to Ambassador Lorenzo through South-South News by transmitting payments from Macau to a company in the Dominican Republic affiliated with Ambassador Lorenzo’s brother (the “Dominican Company”). Through South-South News, Ng also made payments to Ambassador Ashe, including to Ambassador Ashe’s wife, who was paid in her capacity as a “consultant” to South-South News, and to an account that Ambassador Ashe had established, purportedly to raise money for his role as President of UNGA. Ng also provided bribes through cash and wire payments to the Ambassadors.

According to the trial evidence, one of the actions that the Ambassadors took in exchange for bribe payments, to advance Ng’s objectives, was to submit an official document to the then-UN Secretary-General in support of the Macau Conference Center (the “UN Document”). The UN Document claimed that there was a need to build the Macau Conference Center to support the UN’s global development goals. Ambassador Ashe, aided by Ambassador Lorenzo, initially submitted the UN Document to the UNGA in or about late February 2012. More than a year later, at Ng’s behest, the Ambassadors revised the UN Document to refer specifically to Ng’s company, the Sun Kian Ip Group, as a partner in the Macau Conference Center project. The UN Document requested that the Secretary-General circulate the UN Document “as a document of the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly,” under a specific item of the official UNGA agenda. The Secretary-General followed this request, thereby making the UN Document an official part of the UNGA record.

Five other defendants have been charged in this matter. Co-conspirators Lorenzo, Yin and Heidi Hong Piao have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Shiwei Yan has pleaded and was sentenced to 20 months in prison. Co-defendant Ashe passed away in 2016 and the charges against him were dismissed.

This case was investigated by the FBI and IRS-CI. Trial Attorney David A. Last of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel C. Richenthal, Janis M. Echenberg and Douglas S. Zolkind of the Southern District of New York are prosecuting the case.

The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters. Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.

Ivorian Man Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Conspiring To Provide Material Support To The FARC

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Raymond Donovan, Special Agent in Charge of the Special Operations Division of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), announced that FAOUZI JABER, a/k/a “Excellence,” pled guilty to conspiring to provide material support to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (the “FARC”), a designated foreign terrorist organization.  JABER pled guilty earlier today in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine H. Parker.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “Faouzi Jaber arranged to traffic millions of dollars’ worth of lethal weapons and narcotics in support of the FARC’s efforts to violently overthrow the government of Colombia and terrorize U.S. forces stationed there.  In a series of meetings that took him around the world, Jaber was willing to do whatever it took to help this foreign terrorist organization achieve its violent and undemocratic goals.  Our Office will continue to prosecute those who conspire to provide material support to the FARC and other dangerous terrorist organizations to the fullest extent of the law.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge Raymond Donovan said:  “DEA’s number one priority is going after individuals and organizations that pose a direct threat to the safety and security of the American people.  Faouzi Jaber demonstrated how willing he was to do business with some of the world’s most deadly terror networks that wish harm on innocent Americans and the rule of the law.  We must continue to attack these potentially deadly networks globally, no matter where they hide.”

According to the allegations contained in the Superseding Indictment, statements made during the plea proceeding, and other documents in the public record:

From the fall of 2012 through early 2014, JABER participated in a conspiracy to provide material support to the FARC, a guerilla group that, as of that time period, was dedicated to the violent overthrow of the democratically elected government of Colombia, had engaged in acts of violence against U.S. citizens and interests in Colombia and elsewhere, and was one of the world’s largest suppliers of cocaine.  JABER engaged in a series of meetings, in locations such as Accra, Ghana, and Warsaw, Poland, with individuals who identified themselves as representatives and associates of the FARC, but who were, in fact, confidential sources (the “CSes”) working for the DEA.  In the course of those meetings, which were recorded, JABER introduced the CSes to two of his associates, a weapons trafficker based in Ukraine and a narcotics trafficker based in West Africa, in furtherance of his efforts to assist the FARC.  Working together with those associates, during the meetings with the CSes, JABER agreed to provide weapons – including surface-to-air missiles, assault rifles, grenade launchers, and grenades – to the FARC, at a total price of over $8 million, with the understanding that those weapons would be used by the FARC against U.S. forces in Colombia.  JABER also agreed to assist the FARC with the transportation and storage of FARC-owned cocaine in West Africa, and with the laundering of cocaine proceeds for the FARC, including by moving the cocaine proceeds through bank accounts in New York.

In April 2014, JABER traveled to Prague, Czech Republic, to meet with certain of the CSes to continue negotiating and arranging the weapons and narcotics-trafficking transactions in support of the FARC.  On April 5, 2014, JABER was arrested in Prague by Czech authorities based on the charges in this case, at the request of U.S. authorities.  JABER was later extradited to the United States to face the charges against him.

* * *

JABER, 61, of the Ivory Coast, pled guilty to one count of conspiring to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, i.e., the FARC, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge. Sentencing is scheduled for November 8, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. before Chief U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon.

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding efforts of the DEA’s Special Operations Division and DEA’s Vienna, Austria Country Office; DEA’s Warsaw, Poland Country Office; DEA’s Accra, Ghana Country Office; and DEA’s New York Field Division.  Mr. Kim also thanked Czech law enforcement authorities, the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs for their assistance.

This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney George D. Turner is in charge of the prosecution.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces $4.4 Million Settlement Of Civil Lawsuit Against VNS Choice For Improper Collection Of Medicaid Payments

Monday, July 17, 2017

VNS Choice Admits to Collecting Medicaid Payments for Hundreds of Beneficiaries Who It Failed to Timely Disenroll From Its Managed Long-Term Care Plan

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that the United States has settled a civil fraud lawsuit against VNS CHOICE, VNS CHOICE COMMUNITY CARE, and VISITING NURSE SERVICE OF NEW YORK (collectively, “VNS”) for improperly collecting monthly Medicaid payments for 365 Medicaid beneficiaries whom VNS Choice failed to timely disenroll from the VNS Choice Managed Long-Term Care Plan (“Choice MLTCP”). Most of the beneficiaries who should have been disenrolled from the Choice MLTCP were no longer receiving health care services from VNS. Under the terms of the settlement approved today by United States District Judge Ronnie Abrams, VNS Choice must pay a total sum of $4,392,150, with $1,756,860 going to the United States and the remaining amount to the State of New York. In the settlement, VNS admits that VNS Choice failed to timely disenroll 365 Choice MLTCP members and, as a result, received Medicaid payments to which it was not entitled.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “VNS Choice failed to timely disenroll individuals from its managed care plan and continued to collect Medicaid payments for their care, even when it provided no medical services to them. This Office is committed to holding accountable those who receive government health care program dollars to which they are not entitled.”

HHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert said: “As State Medicaid Programs increasingly have moved to managed care arrangements, we have adapted our investigative tools accordingly. We will continue to work closely with our state and federal law enforcement partners to unravel these schemes, and hold health care providers accountable for the money they receive.”

VNS Choice administers a Managed Long-Term Care Plan for Medicaid beneficiaries pursuant to a contract with the New York State Department of Health (“MLTC Contract”). VNS Choice receives payments for each member enrolled in the Plan (called “capitation payments”) in exchange for arranging and providing certain community-based long-term care services, such as care management, skilled nursing services, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and preventive services. During the relevant period, VNS Choice received a monthly capitation payment of $3,800 to $4,200 for each Choice MLTC member.

The MLTC Contract sets forth various circumstances under which members must be disenrolled. For example, VNS Choice is required to disenroll Choice MLTCP members when it knows that a member no longer resides in the service area, a member has been absent from the service area for a specified number of consecutive days, a member is hospitalized for 45 consecutive days or longer, a member is no longer eligible to receive Medicaid benefits, or a member is deemed to be no longer eligible for managed long-term care. VNS Choice also must initiate disenrollment upon a member’s voluntary request.

As alleged in the United States’ Complaint filed in Manhattan federal court, VNS Choice failed to timely disenroll 365 Choice MLTCP members as required by the MLTC Contract and regulatory requirements during the period January 1, 2011, through March 31, 2015. In many instances, VNS Choice continued to collect capitation payments for several months after the date the member should have been disenrolled, during which time VNS Choice provided no health care services to the member. Approximately half of the 365 members moved out of VNS Choice’s service area or left the service area for extended periods of time. Other members notified VNS Choice of their desire to disenroll from the Choice MLTCP or repeatedly refused services but were not timely disenrolled. VNS Choice also failed to promptly disenroll members after determining that they no longer met managed long-term care eligibility criteria. Although VNS Choice eventually disenrolled the 365 members, it kept the Medicaid payments it had improperly received for these members while delaying their disenrollment.

As part of the settlement, VNS admits, acknowledges, and accepts responsibility for the following conduct:

  • VNS Choice failed to identify and disenroll 365 Choice MLTCP members in a timely manner and, as a result, received monthly capitation payments to which it was not entitled.
  • With respect to a number of these 365 Choice MLCTP Members, VNS Choice was aware at the time it ultimately disenrolled the members that the members should have been disenrolled earlier, but failed to repay Medicaid for the monthly capitation payments that VNS Choice had improperly received for those members.

In connection with the filing of the lawsuit and settlement, the Government joined a private whistleblower lawsuit that had been filed under seal pursuant to the False Claims Act. The Government previously partially intervened in this whistleblower lawsuit and entered into a settlement with VNS to resolve allegations relating to the use of social adult day care centers to enroll ineligible members in the Choice MLTCP.

* * *

Mr. Kim thanked the Office of the Inspector General for HHS for its assistance. Kim also thanked the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the New York State Attorney General’s Office for its investigative efforts and work on the case.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey K. Powell is in charge of the case.

Brooklyn Pharmacy Owner/Operator Charged With Defrauding Medicare And Medicaid Programs Of Approximately $9 Million

Monday, July 10, 2017

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Scott J. Lampert, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Regional Office for the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (“HHS-OIG”), and Dennis Rosen, Inspector General of the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (“OMIG”), announced today the unsealing of a criminal Complaint charging defendant SUNITA KUMAR with operating a health care fraud scheme utilizing two pharmacies in Brooklyn, New York, through which KUMAR submitted approximately $9 million in fraudulent claims to Medicaid and Medicare. KUMAR was arrested this morning and was presented in Manhattan federal court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck.

Manhattan Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “As alleged, Sunita Kumar defrauded Medicare and Medicaid, public programs to assist the indigent and the elderly, by submitting $9 million in fraudulent claims. She allegedly did so by inducing people to surrender their own prescriptions and forego their medications in exchange for kickbacks. Medicare and Medicaid provide critical health care for some of our most vulnerable citizens. Together with our law enforcement partners, we will aggressively pursue those who allegedly use public programs as a vehicle for illegal personal profit.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “Exploiting our federal and state health care programs places the economy at a significant disadvantage and threatens the stability of the health care industry overall. Because there’s no single, clearly identifiable victim, the public often finds these schemes incomparable to other, more explicit frauds. But everyone deserves to know that health care fraud alone costs this country tens of billions of dollars a year, not to mention the obvious health safety risks it presents. We will continue to confront this type of crime, and root it out, until it no longer exists.”

HHS-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Scott J. Lampert said: “Prescription drug scams, such as the one alleged in this case, work to undermine our nation’s health care system. Today’s arrest coordinated with our law enforcement partners serve as a stern warning to pharmacy owners tempted to plunder government health programs meant to care for our most vulnerable citizens.”

Medicaid Inspector General Dennis Rosen said: “Exploiting the Medicaid program for personal gain by preying upon New York’s most-vulnerable populations is reprehensible. We will continue to work closely with our federal, state and local partners to hold wrongdoers fully accountable and protect the integrity of the Medicaid program.”

According to the allegations contained in the Complaint[1]:

KUMAR – while owning one pharmacy herself and operating a second pharmacy, both located in Brooklyn, New York – conducted a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid programs by fraudulently seeking reimbursements for prescription drugs. Specifically, KUMAR engaged in a scheme to obtain prescriptions for medications, for which her pharmacies billed and received reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, but which she did not actually dispense to customers. From in or about January 2015 through in or about December 2016, KUMAR obtained approximately $9 million in reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid for prescription drugs that her pharmacies never actually dispensed. KUMAR defrauded Medicare and Medicaid into providing her pharmacies with these reimbursements by obtaining prescriptions from other individuals, who were willing to forego delivery of the medications in exchange for a share of the reimbursed proceeds, in the form of kickbacks paid by KUMAR.

* * *

KUMAR, 54, of Old Westbury, New York, is charged with one count of health care fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and one count of paying illegal remuneration in the form of kickbacks, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the FBI, HHS-OIG, and OMIG.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher J. DiMase and Sarah E. Paul are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


[1] As the introductory phase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.