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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations

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April 23, 2009: Pharmacist is Sentenced for Illegally Buying and Selling Pharmaceuticals, Defrauding Health Insurers

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Food and Drug Administration 
Office of Criminal Investigations

 


 

 

             U.S. Department of Justice Press Release 

 

 

For Immediate Release

April 23, 2009

United States Attorney

District of Rhode Island

Contact: Thomas Connell

(401) 709-5032

 

            A federal judge today sentenced Carmine DeTomasis, a pharmacist, to a year in prison, followed by 18 months home confinement, for illegally buying and selling pharmaceuticals and defrauding health care insurers.  DeTomasis admitted in November that he purchased prescription medications from Louis Romanelli and sold pharmaceuticals to Romanelli.  DeTomasis also submitted false reimbursement claims to health insurance carriers for prescription drugs that the store had not dispensed.

            United States Attorney Robert Clark Corrente announced the sentence, which U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith imposed in U.S. District Court, Providence.  Judge Smith also ordered that DeTomasis forfeit to the government $458,600, the proceeds of his health care fraud, and that he make restitution in the amount of $404,000 to health care insurers. 

            At DeTomasis’ plea hearing in November, Assistant U.S. Attorney Adi Goldstein said the government could prove that, on several occasions last year, Romanelli went to DeTomasis’ Cranston Street store, Prime Drug, and sold him prescription medications, often medications used in the treatment of HIV/AIDs.  Romanelli also bought controlled substances such as hydrocodone from DeTomasis.

            An examination of Prime Drug’s prescription drug inventory determined that the pharmacy regularly billed insurance companies for more drugs than it had in its inventory and, as a result, submitted fraudulent claims totaling about $400,000 to Medicaid, Medicare, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island, and other health insurance carriers.

            DeTomasis, 74, of Summit Avenue, Cranston, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and misbrand drugs, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, distribution of controlled substances, and health care fraud.

            Judge Smith ordered DeTomasis to perform 500 hours of community service annually while on home confinement, to include work with HIV/AIDS patients and pharmacy students.

            Romanelli, 81, of Providence, pleaded guilty in September to more than a dozen charges in connection with the illegal sale of prescription drugs and controlled substances.  He is free on bond, awaiting sentencing.

            A task force anchored by the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation.  In addition to FDA-OCI, the following agencies participated:  the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.