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Pharmacy accused of defrauding Medicare

January 18, 1997

MIAMI (AP) _ Federal authorities have accused a pharmacy of defrauding Medicare by watering down medicine, supposedly supplying 1,800 patients over two years with an amount that should have been depleted by three people.

Most of Cueto Pharmacy’s purported patients were phony, investigators said in today’s editions of The Miami Herald. No criminal charges have been filed, but the government has sued the pharmacy.

Medicare lost from $25 million to $50 million over the last couple of years through the network of medical outfits that tested patients, filled prescriptions at Cueto and delivered the medication to Medicare patients, authorities said.

Rene Sotorrio, an attorney for the pharmacy’s owner Rolando Cueto, said the pharmacy was not guilty of fraud. Sotorrio also represents two Cueto medical supply companies named in the suit.

On Tuesday, the government plans to seek to freeze the assets of Cueto Pharmacy and 24 other medical companies and individuals in Dade and Broward counties.

The drugs Cueto Pharmacy is accused of watering down were intended for patients suffering from asthma, emphysema and other breathing problems. U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspectors said the vials of drugs mixed by the pharmacy contained mostly water.

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