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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. 06-142

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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 20, 2006
For Information, Contact Public Affairs
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947

ORANGE COUNTY RESIDENT SENTENCED TO 14 YEARS IN HEALTHCARE FRAUD CASE INVOLVING BOGUS PRESCRIPTIONS


Los Angeles, CA - A Midway City man was sentenced today to 14 years in federal prison for running a multimillion-dollar scheme that defrauded health insurance companies by submitting claims for prescriptions that were never written or never filled.

Thuan Huy Ha, 46, was sentenced to 168 months in prison by Chief United States District Judge Alicemarie H. Stotler in Santa Ana. In addition to the prison term, Judge Stotler ordered Ha to pay a $100,000 criminal fine and approximately $1.4 million in restitution to several insurance companies.

Ha's co-defendant, My-Huong Thi Hoang, who was convicted with Ha at trial, was previously sentenced to 63 months in federal prison for her role in the fraud.

The scheme involved Ha Pharmacy, a Garden Grove pharmacy operated by Ha. To commit the fraud, Ha obtained patient names, their identifying information and doctors' names from prescriptions that were actually dispensed by the pharmacy. Ha then used this information to submit false claims to insurance companies for prescriptions that were not actually written or dispensed. Ha submitted these claims via computer, and the insurance companies were not aware there were no actual prescriptions. The claims typically involved doctors and patients who had never seen each other, such as prescriptions supposedly written by pediatricians for elderly patients and by a doctor who treated only inmates at a state prison.

By mid-2000, Ha was submitting multiple claims for certain patients, sometimes claiming 20 or more prescriptions had been filled. Ha submitted false claims of more than $5 million, and he transferred over $2 million of these proceeds to himself. As the fraud came to light, many insurers cancelled payment on the false claims and terminated Ha from their networks.

After the insurance companies took action against Ha Pharmacy, Ha transferred the pharmacy to Hoang, a 34-year-old Garden Grove resident, who had worked at the pharmacy as a pharmacist. Hoang changed the pharmacy name to Care Pharmacy and entered into new agreements with many different insurers. Hoang falsely told insurers that Ha had no further connection with the pharmacy. Hoang operated the business at a low volume for about six months, during which time she accumulated a new database of patient names, patient information and doctor names. After the first few months, Hoang claimed to sell the pharmacy to Ha's 85-year-old mother, and a pharmacy business bank account was opened in Ha's mother's name. Following this, another large volume of false claims were submitted. In the first six months of 2001, more than $1 million in additional false claims were paid. The jury found that these funds were laundered by being deposited into the account in Ha's mother's name and then transferred out of that account to Ha and to Hoang.

In a 2004 jury trial that lasted for four weeks, Ha was convicted of 18 counts of mail fraud and 11 counts of money laundering. Hoang was convicted on nine counts of mail fraud and four counts of money laundering.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Stotler ordered that two houses acquired by Ha with proceeds of the fraud were forfeited to the government.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

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Release No. 06-142

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