AP NEWS

Ex-pharmacy rep from San Antonio pleads guilty in $8.8 million fraud scheme

February 22, 2019

A former pharmacy representative from San Antonio has pleaded guilty for her role in an $8.8 million health care fraud scheme that earned her more than $1 million.

Holly Blakely, 45, admitted to paying more than $400,000 in kickbacks and bribes to health care providers prescribing compound medications for pain to people who did not need them.

She was charged in 2017 amid a wide-ranging investigation in at least four states, including Texas, of pharmacies that provide compound pain medication to military veterans and others with private insurance. Compounding pharmacies create their own drugs by combining two or more prescription ingredients.

Blakely faced trial on Feb. 25 on 30 counts but instead pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, health care fraud, bribery, and paying kickbacks. She faces sentencing June 13.

Blakely admitted that she conspired with two compounding pharmacies that would submit claims for reimbursement to health care benefit programs, including Tricare, for compounded medications based on the prescriptions.

In exchange for her role in the conspiracy, the two compounding pharmacies paid Blakely nearly $1.15 million between 2013 and 2014.

Blakely and her co-conspirators disguised the kickbacks and bribes by writing fictitious and back-dated “consulting agreements,” and occasionally forged the signature of a medical professional on prescriptions, U.S. Attorney John Bash said in a news release.

From approximately February 2013 through December 2014, health care benefit programs, including Tricare, reimbursed the two compounding pharmacies more than $8.8 million.

The news release does not identify the pharmacies, but the Express-News confirmed that, in 2015, the federal government reached a settlement with one of them, MediMix Specialty Pharmacy of Jacksonville, Florida, and a top-referring physician, Dr. Ankit Desai, for more than $3.7 million.

Under the deal, the parties resolved allegations that, from Jan. 1, 2009, until December 2014, Dr. Desai sent hundreds of prescriptions to MediMix. Desai was married to a vice president of MediMix.

“Health care providers are generally prohibited from referring business to entities where they have a financial interest,” said a Florida news release announcing the settlement.

Guillermo Contreras covers federal courts in San Antonio and international legal issues. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | gcontreras@express-news.net | Twitter: @gmaninfedland