Physician is latest indicted in pharmacy fraud schemes

October 19, 2017

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi Gulf Coast physician is the latest person indicted on health care fraud charges as part of a series of schemes that federal officials allege cost taxpayers hundreds of millions.

Dr. Albert Diaz of Gulfport was indicted Wednesday in federal court, U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst said.

The 16-count indictment accuses Diaz of defrauding Tricare, a federal military health insurance program, by prescribing $2.3 million in unneeded medications handmade by a compounding pharmacy, Hurst said.

Pharmacist Jason May and health care marketer Gerald Schaar have already pleaded guilty to related charges.

Schaar was accused of taking kickbacks from a pharmacy to persuade someone to prescribe $2.3 million in drugs paid for by Tricare. Schaar and the prescriber are accused of later falsifying patient records to make it appear the physician had long been seeing the patients. It wasn’t immediately clear if Diaz is that prescriber.

It’s unclear if Diaz has a lawyer to comment on the charges. If convicted, he faces up to 305 years in prison and fines of up to $7.5 million.

Federal authorities are already pursuing civil lawsuits against others in Mississippi, alleging they engaged in a variety of schemes designed to defraud federal and private insurers.

Parts of the investigation have been visible since agents raided nine Mississippi pharmacies in January 2016. In a case where prosecutors are trying to seize millions in cash, vehicles and real estate, court papers filed in February alleged that three Mississippi pharmacies alone had bilked $400 million from insurers.

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