Pharmacy Owner and Pharmacist Charged in a Scheme to Bill Insurance for Medications Not Dispensed
DETROIT - A grand jury returned a superseding indictment yesterday charging Wansa Nabih Makki, her husband, Hossam Tanana, and her brother, Mahmoud Makki with multiple health care fraud and money laundering offenses, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider announced today.
Schneider was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Detroit Division and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office.
Charged in the indictment and criminal complaints are:
Wansa Nabih Makki, 42, of Dearborn
Mahmoud Makki., 37, of Dearborn
Hossam Tanana, 54 of Dearborn
According to the superseding indictment, between January 2010 and January 2018, Wansa Makki owned and oversaw the operations of two local pharmacies, LifeCare Pharmacy in Livonia and LifeCare of Michigan in Farmington Hills. Both pharmacies were “closed door” pharmacies, meaning that they were not open to the public and only filled prescriptions for individuals associated with various care facilities.
The superseding indictment alleges that during the course of the conspiracy, Wansa Makki, Hossam Tanana, and Mahmoud Makki engaged in a scheme to bill Medicare, Medicaid and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for approximately $9.2 million dollars for medications that were never dispensed. The fraud scheme was detected by Medicare, in part, because of a huge deficit between each pharmacy’s recorded inventories and the claims that each submitted for insurance reimbursement. As part of the scheme to defraud, the defendants billed insurance companies for allegedly submitting claims for delivering over 500 medications to people who had died prior to the claimed date of delivery. The grand jury also charged Wansa Makki with making a false statement to the IRS when she falsely claimed to be a Pharmacist in her 2015 tax return.
According to the indictment, proceeds of the fraud scheme were laundered by overpaying consulting and delivery companies owned by Hossam Tanana and Mahmoud Makki. For instance, Hossam Tanana was previously convicted for diverting controlled substances such as oxycodone, hydrocodone (Vicodin) and alprazolam (Xanax) while being licensed as a pharmacist. Two days after being released from federal custody in April of 2012, Tanana incorporated a pharmacy consulting company. Between the date of incorporation and December of 2013, Tanana’s consulting company received over $400,000 from the LifeCare Pharmacy. LifeCare Pharmacy also paid over one million dollars to a delivery service opened by Wansa Makki’s brother, Mahmoud Makki, in a 14-month period beginning in December of 2013.
According to the Indictment, Wansa Makki used the proceeds to make a $21,500 payment for a Mercedes G63 AMG while Hossam Tanana used fraud proceeds to purchase a $545,000 Waterford Lakehouse. The indictment further alleged that Wansa Makki spent more than $3,000 in dock repairs to the Waterford Lakehouse.
During the investigation, the FBI and United States Attorney’s Office deployed the full arsenal of financial investigation tools to seize assets, which will be returned to the victim taxpayers in the event of a conviction. Seized assets include the following:
- Over $2 million in liquid assets seized from accounts controlled by members of the conspiracy;
- Eight King George Gold Coins valued at over $3,000, One Queen Elizabeth II Gold Coin valued at $378, One Tiffany Diamond Ring Valued at $60,000, six Troy once Suisse gold bars valued at approximately $8,000, and 27 designer handbags – including Hermes Birkin™ and Coco Chanel™ valued at approximately $78,000.
According to court records, upon conviction, the United States Attorney’s Office will seek the forfeiture of the additional following property, the 5,700 square foot residence of Wansa Makki and Hossam Tanana in Dearborn. Further, upon conviction, the United States will seek the forfeiture of $113,000 in proceeds from the sale of a Waterford lake house purchased by Hossam Tanana for $545,000 while he was on federal supervised release following his 2010 distribution of controlled substance conviction.
According to court records, a member of the same conspiracy, Mohamad Ali Makki pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing. As part of his plea agreement, Mohamad Ali Makki, agreed to forfeit approximately $2.6 million in liquid assets seized from accounts he controlled. He additionally agreed to the imposition of a $2.3 million forfeiture judgment. The United States is authorized to forfeit any and assets Mohamad Ali Makki owns to satisfy the forfeiture judgment. In addition to the forfeiture judgment, the district court will also impose a restitution judgment of approximately $9.8 million based on the pecuniary losses to Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted of a health care fraud charge, the defendants face a maximum sentence of imprisonment of ten years, and a maximum fine of $250,000. If convicted of the money laundering charges, the defendants face up to twenty years’ imprisonment. Upon conviction, the court would be required to impose both forfeiture and restitution judgments.
The case was investigated by Special Agents of the HHS and FBI, with cooperation and assistance from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Philip Ross and Mitra Jafary-Hariri. Fraud Section Trial Attorney Shankar Ramamurthy previously prosecuted the Asset Forfeiture aspects of this case before transferring to his current position.