Edmond Nurse Agrees to Pay $130,000 for Allegedly Engaging in an Illegal Kickback Scheme
A nurse from Edmond, Oklahoma, has agreed to pay the United States $130,000 for allegedly accepting illegal kickback payments from OK Compounding.
United States Attorney Trent Shores announced today that his office has entered into a settlement agreement with V. Erin Files, an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, in order to recoup losses to the United States resulting from the illegal kickbacks. This civil settlement resulted from an investigation into numerous healthcare providers writing prescriptions for pain creams compounded and sold by OK Compounding.
In 2013, Files prescribed these pain creams for her patients, facilitating the sale and distribution of the creams. As compensation for her services, OK Compounding, paid Files what was characterized by the parties as “medical director fees” based upon an hourly rate. However, the payments Files received from the company were, in actuality, “kickbacks.” Because some of her patients were insured by TRICARE, the health care program of the U.S. Department of Defense Military Health System for military service members and retirees, the kickbacks were in violation of the False Claims Act. It is illegal to pay or receive kickbacks in conjunction with federal healthcare insurance.
Prohibitions against kickbacks are crucial to ensure that financial motives do not undermine the medical judgment of physicians and other health care providers. The civil False Claims Act is an important tool used to protect the integrity of taxpayer-funded health care programs.
“Unfortunately, abuse and exploitation of federal healthcare programs happens. The False Claims Act is one of the tools we use to hold accountable individuals, health care providers, and companies who illegally take money from the coffers of our federal healthcare system,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. “It is unacceptable that Ms. Files received kickbacks as part of her work with a federal healthcare program that supports our military service men and women and their families. This U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to working with our state and federal partners to investigate those abusing the system. I appreciate the dedicated work of the investigators and attorneys from my Affirmative Civil Enforcement team who brought this case.”
The agreement resolves allegations that Ms. Files had an illegal financial relationship with OK Compounding, concerning pain creams in 2013.
This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marianne Hardcastle and is the product of a collaborative investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services- Office of Inspector General, the Department of Defense- Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy, the Oklahoma State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision and the Food and Drug Administration- Office of Criminal Investigation. The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.