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Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California


United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
Release No. 06-031

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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2006
For Information, Contact Public Affairs
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947

RANCHO PALOS VERDES PHARMACISTS SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR OVERBILLING MEDI-CAL FOR DRUGS PRESCRIBED TO UCLA LIVER PATIENTS


Los Angeles, CA - Two brothers from Rancho Palos Verdes were each sentenced to 46 months in federal prison today after being convicted last year on federal health care fraud charges for billing two government health insurance programs for drugs their pharmacies never dispensed.

Mohammadali Abolahrar, 34, and Reza Abolahrar, 38, were convicted by a jury of conspiracy and 20 counts of health care fraud on August 9, 2005.

The 21 charges in the indictment were related to the Abolahrars' operation of two pharmacies, Bayview Pharmacy in Redondo Beach, which they owned and operated from about 1995 until 1998, and Roxbury Pharmacy near Beverly Hills, which they owned and operated from 1998 through 2001. The evidence presented during a four-week trial showed that the pharmacies billed the Medi-Cal program and the federal Tricare program for prescription drugs that they did not dispense to their clients.

The two pharmacies received a large amount of business from the liver transplant unit at the UCLA Medical Center, which would fax prescriptions to the pharmacies on behalf of liver transplant patients. Over time, the amount of medication a patient would need would decrease. The pharmacies provided the lesser amount to the liver transplant patients, but they often billed Medi-Cal and Tricare for the larger amount. The defendants also billed the programs for drugs that UCLA never prescribed and that the pharmacies never dispensed to the patients, and for drugs that UCLA initially prescribed, but then discontinued. Defendants continued to bill the programs for these "discontinued" drugs long after defendants stopped dispensing the drugs to UCLA's patients.

Medi-Cal is a health benefits program for the indigent. Tricare is a federal health insurance program benefitting military service members, veterans and their dependents.

At sentencing, United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer found that the defendants, during the course of their scheme, received more than $395,000 from Medi-Cal and Tricare for medications that they did not dispense to the liver transplant patients.

The Abolahrars were each sentenced to 46 months in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year period of supervised release. In addition, the Abolahrars were ordered to pay a total of $395,000 in restitution to Medi-Cal and Tricare. Reza Abolahrar was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine to the United States, and Mohammadali Abolahrar was ordered to pay a fine of $50,000.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Defense Criminal Investigative Service; the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Defense; and the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse of the California Department of Justice.

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Release No. 06-031

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