July 20, 2011: Dorchester Pharmacist Convicted for Defrauding Medicare and Medicaid
Food and Drug Administration
Office of Criminal Investigations
U.S. Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
July 20, 2011
United States Attorney
District of Massachusetts
Contact: Christina Dilorio-Sterling
BOSTON, Mass. - A Dorchester pharmacist was convicted late yesterday in federal court for conspiracy to defraud the United States government by submitting over $204,000 in false claims to Medicaid, a federally funded program.
ERNEST MCGEE, 40, pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with conspiracy to defraud the government, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286.
Had the case proceeded to trial, the evidence would have proven that McGee, an assistant pharmacist at Codman Square Pharmacy located on Washington Street in Dorchester, along with the pharmacy's owner, Amadiegwu Onujiogu, paid customers to bring prescriptions to the pharmacy, but did not actually dispense the medications to the customers. Onujiogu and McGee solicited and received paper prescriptions (prescriptions purportedly issued and signed by the individuals' physicians), and submitted claims for payment to Medicaid and Medicare for the prescriptions and their refills, without physically dispensing the medication to the individuals.
Other public records indicate that Onujiogu and McGee purchased prescriptions from certain Medicaid beneficiaries, particularly individuals with expensive medications. Customers who participated regularly in this prescription purchasing scheme were typically individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS and/or psychiatric disorders such as depression and bi-polar disorder. Many of these individuals were drug addicted, and some were homeless. These customers were encouraged by Onujiogu to bring their prescriptions to the pharmacy and sell them for cash. Customers received payments that ranged from one-tenth to one-third of the amount that the pharmacy would bill Medicaid and sometimes Medicare as a secondary insurance. Since the medications were not dispensed as intended, the customers were not receiving or taking the medications they had been prescribed.
When these beneficiaries brought paper prescriptions into the pharmacy, Onujiogu and McGee first confirmed that the prescriptions were approved for payment by Medicaid. Then Onujiogu and McGee entered the prescriptions into the pharmacy computer, submitted the claims to Medicaid electronically, and printed out labels. Onujiogu and McGee paid a percentage of the value of the medications to the beneficiaries in cash, in the back room of the pharmacy, and then shredded the labels, without ever dispensing the medications. Some of these medications fraudulently billed to Medicaid cost more than $1,000 for a one-month supply. Records seized from the pharmacy show that, over an 11-month period, Onujiogu and McGee fraudulently billed in excess of $204,000 to Medicaid for prescriptions that were not dispensed.
U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton scheduled sentencing for October 25. McGee faces up to 10 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Susan J. Waddell, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Boston Regional Office of Investigations; Mark Dragonetti, Special Agent in Charge, Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations; and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shelbey D. Wright of Ortiz's Health Care Fraud Unit.