Guilty plea entered in Tampa pharmaceutical fraud case
Larry Everett Smith pled guilty to one charge of conspiracy to commit health care fraud on Monday. He is the fifth man from Tampa, Florida, to plead guilty in a $1 billion fraud case. It is the second largest health care fraud case in U.S. history.
Smith worked with Scott Roix, Mihir Taneja, Arun Kapoor and multiple pharmaceutical companies to submit nearly $1 billion in bills to pharmacy benefit managers for fraudulently purchased prescriptions. They defrauded benefit managers out of nearly $175 million.
Get the latest state-specific policy intelligence for the health care sector delivered to your inbox.
The men were indicted by the District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee in 2018. Roix pled guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud in 2018 and paid $5 million is restitution. Taneja and Kapoor pled guilty to felony mis-branding in December. Another Tampa man, Maikel Bolos, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and health care fraud in the same case last month as well.
The scheme began in 2015, when the men worked with pharmacy companies to fraudulently sell marked-up prescriptions to patients. HealthRight, a pharmaceutical company among those indicted, illegally solicited patient insurance and prescription information and used it to sell prescriptions.
Sterling-Knight Pharmaceuticals LLC, Alpha-Omega Pharmacy LLC, Germaine Pharmacy Inc., Zoetic Pharmacy and Tanith Enterprises were also charged for their involvement in the scheme.
“After improperly soliciting patient information, these marketing companies obtained approvals through contracted telemedicine prescribers, then sold those costly prescriptions to pharmacies in exchange for kickbacks,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in a statement.
The Department of Justice made the biggest health care fraud bust in U.S. history last year when over 100 doctors, nurses and medical professionals were charged in a telemedicine fraud scheme. In 2019, 30 individuals were charged in an $86 million Medicaid fraud casein Florida.