HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A Lamar County woman pleaded guilty Wednesday for her role in a multimillion-dollar health care fraud scheme.
Hope Evangulane Thomley, 52, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and a dual charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering and tax evasion. Her sentencing is set for July 2 before U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett. Hope faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.
“Hope Thomley and her co-conspirators stole millions of dollars from a federal health care program that serves our nation’s brave military personnel and their families,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski. “The Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners will continue to target unscrupulous medical professionals, business owners, and pharmacies that steal from our nation’s vital health care programs.”
Hope’s husband, Randy Thomley, is also charged in the case and is set to plead guilty on Feb. 26, according to Sheila Wilbanks, Executive Assistant to U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst.
The Thomleys were two of four Pine Belt residents indicted in May 2018 for allegedly engaging in a scam that defrauded insurers of more than $200 million. Prosecutors allege that "pharmacy owners bribed healthcare providers to prescribe hand-crafted, high-dollar medications, that in many cases, were unnecessary.”
Randy was indicted on 26 counts and Hope was indicted on 23 counts. Both pleaded not guilty during a June arraignment and remained free on a $25,000 bond.
The Thomleys were associated with Advantage Pharmacy, which prosecutors said was at the center of the scheme that recruited physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners and others into writing bogus prescriptions. Many of the prescriptions were for compound medications, some costing upwards of $10,000.
“Hope Thomley was charged in a very complex scheme to launder criminally derived proceeds resulting from a fraud scheme against TRICARE,” said IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Thomas Holloman. “Her efforts to conceal the source of her ill-gotten gains and evade taxes were the precise reason why IRS-CI’s involvement was so essential to unraveling the criminal conspiracies involved in this case. IRS special agents are uniquely equipped to decipher this type of criminal activity, and levy the appropriate charges to address the criminal conduct. As a result of the collaborative efforts of the investigative team, Hope Thomley agreed to accept responsibility for her actions and will now be held accountable for the breadth of her criminal conduct in this matter.”
Jason May, a former pharmacist for Advantage Pharmacy, and Jay Schaar, a former marketer for Advantage Pharmacy, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud in July 2015.
Co-defendant Glenn “Doyle” Beach Jr., of Sumrall, was indicted on 16 counts and pleaded not guilty during his June arraignment. A fourth defendant, Gregory Parker, of Laurel, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
“Today’s guilty plea in one of the largest health care fraud schemes in Mississippi history brings us one step closer to justice for our veterans, our military and the American taxpayers,” said U.S. Attorney Hurst. “I commend the hard work and dedication of our prosecutors, investigative agents and other law enforcement partners for pursuing this important case. We will not stop until all those who were involved in this despicable scheme have been brought to justice.”
According to prosecutors, nine other individuals involved in this scheme have pleaded guilty, and one was convicted at trial.