The Department of Justice announced Friday that the owner of a Florida pharmacy, a medical doctor and a patient recruiter were convicted for their role in a kickback scheme involving pain and scar creams that resulted in the payment of approximately $4.3 million in false and fraudulent claims to TRICARE.
TRICARE provides medical insurance and prescription drug coverage for active duty military members, their families and retired veterans.
Following a five-day trial, Larry Howard, 53, of Oviedo, Fla.; Nicole Bramwell, M.D., 52, of Apopka, Fla.; and Raymond Stone, 57, of Orlando, were convicted of one count of conspiracy to pay health care kickbacks and paying and receiving kickbacks. Howard was also convicted of two counts of paying health care kickbacks and two counts of money laundering. Bramwell and Stone were convicted of one count each of receiving health care kickbacks.
As the owner of Fertility Pharmacy, located in Oviedo, Howard paid illegal health care kickbacks to Raymond Stone, who in return referred patients to doctors previously selected by Howard. The doctors then prescribed expensive pain and scar creams to the patients, which Howard billed to TRICARE, according to evidence presented at the trial. Similarly, Howard paid illegal health care kickbacks to Dr. Nicole Bramwell, who in return wrote prescriptions for the pain and scar creams, which could cost up to $17,000 per bottle. Between October 2014 and May 2015, Fertility Pharmacy was paid over $4.3 million by TRICARE, money which was procured through illegal kickbacks.
The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, and was part of the bombshell announcement made by the Justice Department in July 2017, bringing charges against over 412 individuals in the healthcare industry for a total of $1.3 billion in fraud schemes nationwide.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which operates in nine cities across the United States, has charged nearly 3,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $12.5 billion.
The following video is from July 13, 2017, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the largest health care fraud takedown in U.S. history.