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Press Release

Maryland Woman Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Taking Part In Scheme Involving Prescription and Health Care Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
Defendant Submitted Forged Prescriptions for Oxycodone, Other Drugs

            WASHINGTON - Claire Elizabeth Rice, 68, of Silver Spring, Md., pled guilty today to  federal charges of conspiracy to obtain controlled substances by prescription fraud and participating in a health care fraud scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips, Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Nicholas DiGiulio, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), for the region that includes Washington, D.C.

            Rice entered the plea in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison for the conspiracy count and up to 10 additional years for the health care fraud scheme. The Honorable Richard J. Leon scheduled sentencing for June 3, 2016. As part of the plea agreement, Rice also agreed to pay $16,175, representing her share of illegal proceeds obtained from two health care plans.

            Both offenses were charged in a federal indictment returned in 2014. In her plea, Rice admitted to a statement of offense under oath concerning her conduct. From 2008 through 2013, Rice presented and filled 91 forged prescriptions for drugs, including oxycodone, a synthetic opiate, in the name of a practicing cardiologist with offices in Northwest Washington. Rice was never a patient of this doctor.

            According to the statement of offense, Rice got the prescriptions from her co-defendant, Novella White. White, 53, also known as Novella Brown, of Accokeek, Md., has denied her role in the offenses and is facing a jury trial set for April 18, 2016. White was a former employee of the cardiologist, and according to the doctor, did not have authority to write prescriptions for herself or for Claire Rice. White is charged with presenting forged prescriptions for oxycodone and other drugs in her own name.

            Rice caused the forged prescriptions that she obtained to be billed to health care plans such as Express Scripts and Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The health plans were defrauded the costs of filling these various prescriptions.

            In announcing the guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Phillips, Assistant Director in Charge Abbate, and Special Agent in Charge DiGiulio commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the HHS Office of the Inspector General. They also expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. Dominguez and Jennifer Kerkhoff, who prosecuted the case.

Updated February 25, 2016

Health Care Fraud
Press Release Number: 16-029