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Justice Department is charging 78 people with $2.5 billion in healthcare fraud

Justice Department is charging 78 people with $2.5 billion in healthcare fraud

US Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks in Washington, DC on June 22, 2023

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The Justice Department announced on Wednesday that it recently indicted 78 people on $2.5 billion in healthcare fraud and opioid abuse.

The defendants allegedly defrauded programs that care for the elderly and disabled and, in some cases, used the ill-gotten money to buy exotic cars, jewelry and yachts, according to the Justice Department.

Defendants include 11 defendants accused of filing $2 billion in fraudulent claims via telemedicine, and 10 defendants charged in connection with fraudulent prescription drug claims.

Overall, prosecutors in 16 states have filed indictments against individuals in cases filed or cleared under the coordinated crackdown in the past two weeks.

Defendants include “physicians and other licensed medical professionals who lined their own pockets, including physicians who allegedly put their patients at risk by illegally giving them opioids they didn’t need,” the DOJ said in a press release.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement: “These enforcement actions, including against one of the largest healthcare fraud cases ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice, represent our increased efforts to fight fraud and prosecute those who benefit from it.”

In the plan, led by Garland, executives at alleged software and services companies filed $1.9 billion in fraudulent claims with Medicare for items that were non-reimbursable, according to the DOJ.

Defendants in this case include Brett Blackman and Gregory Schreck of Johnson County, Kansas, and Gary Cox of Maricopa County, Arizona, who allegedly used mass telemarketing operations to sell unnecessary medical equipment and prescriptions to the elderly and disabled, according to an indictment in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

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The trio allegedly ran a software platform called DMERx, which generated fake and fraudulent medical prescriptions in exchange for illegal kickbacks and bribes.

Blackman was CEO of the company that operated the software, and Schreck was vice president of business development. Cox was CEO of the company that had previously operated the platform prior to a corporate acquisition.

This is an evolving story. Please check again for updates.

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