Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations
December 2, 2011: Dorchester Pharmacist Sentenced for Medicaid Fraud
BOSTON - A Dorchester pharmacist was sentenced yesterday in federal court for conspiracy to defraud the United States government by submitting false claims to Medicaid, a federally-funded program.
Ernest M. McGee, 51, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton to 12 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. McGee was also ordered to pay restitution to Medicaid in the amount of $292,635, and to Medicare in the amount of $60,037. On July 19, 2011 McGee pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government.
McGee was an assistant pharmacist at Codman Square Pharmacy in Dorchester, which was owned by Amadiegwu Onujiogu, also a registered pharmacist. Onujiogu and McGee paid customers to bring prescriptions to the pharmacy, but did not dispense the medications to them. McGee solicited and received the actual prescriptions purportedly issued and signed by the individuals’ physicians, and then submitted claims for payment to Medicaid and Medicare for the prescriptions and their refills, without physically dispensing the medication to the individuals.
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 McGee to bring their prescriptions to the pharmacy, and to sell them for cash, with payments to the customers ranging from one-tenth to one-third of the amount the pharmacy would bill Medicaid, as well as, in some instances, Medicare as a secondary insurance. McGee knew that because the medications were not in fact being dispensed as intended, these customers were not receiving or taking the medications they had been prescribed. McGee paid a percentage of the value of the medications to the beneficiaries, in cash, in the back room of Codman Square Pharmacy, without ever dispensing the medications. Some of these medications fraudulently billed to Medicaid and Medicare cost more than $1,000 per month. In total, Medicaid paid at least $292,000 and Medicare paid at least $60,000 to Codman Square Pharmacy for these fraudulently billed prescriptions.
Onujiogu was convicted separately of the same crime, and was sentenced in June 2011 to 15 months in prison, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $352,675 and forfeiture of $200,000.
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 of the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations; Kevin Lane, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration - Boston Field Division; and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis, Commissioner made the announcement today.
The case was investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Office of the Attorney General, Medicaid Fraud Division; the Office of the State Auditor, Bureau of Special Investigations; and the Boston Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shelbey D. Wright of Ortiz’s Health Care Fraud Unit.