South Florida Pharmacist Sentenced to More Than Six Years in Prison for Role in $3.4 Million Compounding Pharmacy Scheme
A pharmacist licensed by the State of Florida was sentenced today to 78 months in prison for her participation in a scheme involving the payment of approximately $3.4 million in fraudulent claims by TRICARE, Medicare, and private insurance programs for compounded creams that were medically unnecessary, procured through illegal kickbacks, and otherwise not eligible for reimbursement.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Shimon R. Richmond of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office and Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin of the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General – Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS)’s Southeast Field Office made the announcement.
Marjorie Robinson, 61, of Wilton Manors, Florida, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida. Chief Judge Moore also ordered Robinson to pay $3.4 million in restitution, jointly and severally with her co-conspirators, and to forfeit the same amount. Robinson pleaded guilty in September 2018 to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
According to admissions made as part of her plea agreement, from approximately 2013 to 2016, Robinson was a one-third owner of A.S.C. Pharmacy, Inc. (ASC), a now-defunct compounding pharmacy in Miami where Robinson worked as the pharmacist-in-charge. Under Robinson’s ownership and direction, ASC designed and manufactured compounded creams by selecting certain ingredients not based on individualized patient need, but rather to maximize financial reimbursement to ASC from government and private insurance programs. To carry out the fraudulent scheme, Robinson agreed with her co-conspirators to pay kickbacks to doctors and patient recruiters in exchange for prescriptions for ASC’s medically unnecessary compounded creams and to waive patient co-payments. As a result of fraudulent claims submitted in connection with the scheme, TRICARE, Medicare and private insurance programs paid ASC approximately $3.4 million.
Robinson was charged along with co-defendants Laszlo Teleszky, M.D., 68, of New Port Richey, Florida; Sheila Arucri, 57, of Davie, Florida; and Todd Schreier, 34, of Russell, Kentucky. Teleszky, Arcuri and Schreier each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Teleszky and Arucri were sentenced on Nov. 27 to serve 16 months and 12 months and one day in prison, respectively. Schreier is awaiting sentencing.
Ascanio Serna Jr. and Ascanio Serna Sr., both additional co-owners of ASC, were charged separately in this case. Ascanio Serna Jr. pleaded guilty in August 2017 and was sentenced to serve 64 months in prison. Ascanio Serna Sr. pleaded guilty in August 2018 and was sentenced to serve 37 months in prison.
The FBI, HHS-OIG, and DCIS investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. Trial Attorney David Snider of the Fraud Section is prosecuting the case.
The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 14 strike forces operating in 23 districts, has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.