United States Files Suit Against Pharmacy, Pharmacy Owner, and Pharmacist-in-Charge for Alleged False Billing
PHILADELPHIA, PA – First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that the United States has filed a civil lawsuit against G & A Somerton Pharmacy LLC (“Somerton”), its owner Polina Khodak, and its pharmacist-in-charge, Inessa Lerner, alleging that they violated the False Claims Act when they knowingly billed Medicare for over $1 million worth of prescription drugs that were never actually dispensed to beneficiaries, during the period January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2015. These medications included but were not limited to Lidoderm, Advair Diskus, Omeprazole, Solaraze, Nexium, Donepezil, Novolog, Meclizine, Lidocaine, and Januvia.
The United States has also entered into a Stipulated Order and Consent Judgment with Somerton, Khodak, and Lerner, subject to the Court’s approval, which would resolve the matter without litigation. If approved by the Court, the Judgment will require the defendants to pay nearly $1.3 million. Significantly, it will also require Somerton and Khodak to agree to a 10-year healthcare exclusion, which will prohibit them from receiving payments from any federally funded health care insurer such as Medicare. And it will require Lerner to enter into an integrity agreement, requiring her to undertake substantial compliance obligations.
“Pharmacy fraud remains a priority for our Office,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams. “Taxpayer dollars should be spent on needed medications, not wasted on fraud and abuse. Our Office will continue to scrutinize and pursue such conduct.”
“Pharmacies are responsible for all claims they submit to Medicare,” said Maureen R. Dixon, Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia Regional Office of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General. “HHS-OIG and the U.S. Attorney’s Office take allegations of health care fraud seriously and will work together to ensure taxpayers’ dollars are only spent on bona fide medical claims.”
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General. For the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah W. Frey, Civil Chief Gregory B. David, Auditor George Niedzwicki, and paralegal Patricia Bontempo, Certified Fraud Examiner, handled the matter.
The complaint contains allegations only; there has been no determination of liability