Insurance Fraud NEWS
Mississippi pharmacist key cog in $400M compound med con
August 09, 2018, Ridgeland, MS
A Ridgeland pharmacist pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to commit health care fraud for his role in a $400 million compound pharmacy scheme with roots in Hattiesburg.
Thomas Spell Jr., 50, admitted to U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett that he participated in the fraud, filing $243,550,803 in false claims with TRICARE, the health benefit program for the military.
Nearly $30 million of the fraudulently obtained money went to Spell. With his plea, the government through forfeiture will seize more than $26 million in assets held by Spell.
Starrett set his sentencing for Oct. 16. He appeared earlier before Magistrate Judge Michael Parker, who set his unsecured bond at $100,000.
Spell’s case is part of the largest health care fraud scheme ever investigated and prosecuted in Mississippi, U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst said in a news release.
The government said Spell, who owns several pharmacies across the country, conspired with others to create, market and distribute costly compounded medications to patients who were never seen by doctors and many of whom did not need or want the expensive drugs.
Spell admitted to conspiring with other unnamed persons to planning and carrying out the scheme while in Lamar County.
Spell and others also purchased money orders and prepaid debit cards to make copayments for beneficiaries in an attempt to make the reimbursement claims seem legitimate.
Silas Richmond II, a Jackson pharmacist, pleaded guilty July 18 to conspiracy to commit health care fraud of more than $545,000.
He was released on a $50,000 unsecured bond. His sentencing is set for Oct. 2 in Hattiesburg.
To date, 11 people have been charged in connection to the case. Seven have pleaded guilty, one was convicted and three others will stand trial in November.
Hurst attended Spell's change of plea hearing at the William M. Colmer Federal Courthouse.
He said the investigation remains ongoing nationwide.
"Ripping off our veterans and members of the military is despicable, and that is exactly what this defendant and others have done by defrauding TRICARE and the American taxpayer," Hurst said. "Rest assured that we will hunt down all those who commit this type of fraud and we will not stop until such criminals are brought to justice.
List of defendants
As of Aug. 9, 11 people have been charged in connection to the compound pharmacy scheme that bilked TRICARE and other health benefits providers of more than $400 million.
Thomas Spell Jr. pleaded guilty Aug. 9
Brantley Nichols pleaded guilty July 24
Silas Richmond II pleaded guilty July 18
Gregory Parker pleaded guilty July 18
Susan Perry pleaded guilty June 16
Albert Diaz convicted on 16 charges; sentenced to 3½ years
Jason May pleaded guilty July 25, 2017; sentencing set for Aug. 21
Gerald "Jay" Schaar pleaded guilty July 25, 2017; sentencing set for Aug. 21
Glenn "Doyle" Beach scheduled for trial, date pending
Hope Thomley scheduled for trial, date pending
Howard "Randy" Thomley scheduled for trial, date pending
Source: Hattiesburg American