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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 and Second Woman Submitted Forged Prescriptions

            WASHINGTON – Novella White, 53, of Accokeek, 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.

            White 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 July 7, 2016. As part of the plea agreement, White agreed to pay $5,400, representing her share of illegal proceeds obtained from various health care plans.

            A co-defendant, Claire Elizabeth Rice, 68, of Silver Spring, Md., pled guilty on Feb. 25, 2016 to the same charges. She is to be sentenced on June 3, 2016. As part of the plea agreement, Rice agreed to pay $16,175, representing her share of illegal proceeds.

            Both defendants were charged in a federal indictment returned in 2014. In her plea, White admitted to a statement of offense concerning her conduct. She admitted that, from 2008 to 2013, she passed 127 forged prescriptions for drugs, including oxycodone, a synthetic opiate, in the name of practicing cardiologist with offices in Northwest Washington. Ninety-one of the prescriptions were written in the name of Rice, her friend, who was never a patient of the doctor.

            White, a former employee of the doctor, left her job as a receptionist in January 2010, but took a blank prescription pad from the office when she left.  White was not a health care professional and did not have authority to write prescriptions for herself or for Rice.

            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. White presented forged prescriptions in her own name as well, and caused them to be billed to one of four different health insurance plans which she maintained: Safeway Informed RX, Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Health, and Medco Health, which were the victims of the health care fraud charges.

            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 April 15, 2016

Health Care Fraud
Press Release Number: 16-067