Ridgeland pharmacist the latest charged in health care fraud scheme

Ridgeland pharmacist the latest charged in health care fraud scheme
A South Mississippi grand jury indicted four Pine Belt residents for their alleged roles in a multi-million dollar scheme. (Photo source: Raycom News Network)

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A Mississippi pharmacist has been charged in a federal investigation into a scheme to defraud TRICARE and other health care benefit programs out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Documents were filed in U.S. District Court on Wednesday charging Thomas Edward Spell Jr., of Ridgeland, with felony attempt and conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

The court filings allege Spell worked with others to defraud TRICARE and other federal healthcare programs by mass producing and prescribing medically unnecessary compound medications through a scheme that included kickbacks, bribes and fraud.

According to prosecutors, Spell was one of the "central architects" of the scheme.

Spell co-owned Medworx pharmacy in Madison County, in addition to at least three other pharmacies across the country, according to court documents.

The filings allege the fraudulent claims Spell was involved in totaled more than $243 million.

You can read the filing in its entirety below:

Federal investigators have seized more than $17 million from bank accounts linked to Spell, two vehicles, a boat and several properties in Mississippi and Florida. If he is found guilty, those assets will be forfeited.

A search of the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy website shows Spell still has an active pharmacy license in the State of Mississippi.

The sweeping federal investigation that now has Spell in its crosshairs has already resulted in guilty pleas from five defendants and a guilty verdict for a sixth.

Dr. Albert Diaz, a Biloxi-based physician, was found guilty on all 16 counts in a federal indictment charging him with fraud, conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, distribution of a controlled substance and destruction, alteration or falsification of records in a federal investigation.

Diaz was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for his role in the scheme.

Susan Perry, a nurse practitioner that lived in Alabama but worked on the Mississippi Coast, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. She is set to be sentenced September 20.

More on Susan Perry

Jay Schaar, a former pharmaceutical sales representative, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Jason May, a pharmacist who was in charge of Hattiesburg-based Advantage Pharmacy, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and money laundering.

Sentencing for May and Schaar is set for August 21.

Gregory Parker, a Laurel nurse practitioner, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. His sentencing is set for October 2.

Brantley Nichols, a Hattiesburg dental surgeon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 8, 2019.

Three other suspects are awaiting trial after being indicted in the investigation.

Hope Evangulane Thomley, Howard Randall Thomley and Glenn Doyle Beach Jr. were named in a 28-count indictment alleging they conspired and engaged "in a scheme to defraud health care insurance companies of more than $200 million by fraudulent formulating, marketing, prescribing and billing for compounded medications produced and dispensed by pharmacies located in the Southern District of Mississippi."

4 indicted in multi-million dollar pharmacy fraud scheme

The Thomleys filed papers Wednesday requesting their trial date be moved from Aug. 20 to at least January 2018. Their attorney argued the continuance was necessary because of the "extraordinary" amount of information under review to prepare for the trial.

Beach filed court papers Wednesday requesting he stand trial separate from the Thomleys. The filing argues Beach's right to a fair trial will be compromised if he is tried alongside the Thomleys. Beach also expressed his desire for a speedy trial.

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