4 charged with defrauding insurers of more than $200M

Four Mississippi residents are accused of defrauding insurers of more than $200 million, the latest indictments in a still-unfolding investigation into pharmacies that prosecutors say bribed health care providers to prescribe handcrafted high-dollar medications that were in many cases unnecessary.

Posted: Jun 26, 2018 10:14 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Four Mississippi residents are accused of defrauding insurers of more than $200 million, the latest indictments in a still-unfolding investigation into pharmacies that prosecutors say bribed health care providers to prescribe handcrafted high-dollar medications that were in many cases unnecessary.

Indictments against Hope Thomley and Randy Thomley of Hattiesburg, Glenn Beach Jr. of Sumrall, and Gregory Parker of Laurel were unsealed Monday in Hattiesburg. The Thomleys and Beach were associated with Advantage Pharmacy, one of the businesses that authorities place at the center of the scheme. Advantage pharmacist Jason May of Hattiesburg and marketer Jay Schaar of Gulfport pleaded guilty earlier.

As previously alleged, Beach, May and others figured out how to make compounded medications that insurers would pay high prices for, "regardless of the individual medical needs of the beneficiaries or the effectiveness of the high-yield compounded medication," according to the indictment. Some prescriptions were worth more than $10,000 apiece.

Marketers recruited dentists, physicians, nurse practitioners and others to writing bogus prescriptions to patients they never examined, prosecutors allege.

"The defendants and their co-conspirators created pre-printed, check-the-box prescription forms," the indictment states. Prosecutors allege pharmacy owners paid kickbacks of a certain percentage of revenue to prescribers as well as the marketers they signed up. Prosecutors document millions in payments to marketing companies they say made the kickbacks.

Hope and Randy Thomley face 24 and 23 felony counts, respectively, including conspiracy, health care fraud and money laundering. Beach faces 16 counts. Parker, a nurse practitioner accused of prescribing medications to patients without examining them and lying to federal investigators, faces eight counts.

Beach pleaded not guilty Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael T. Parker and was released on $25,000 bail. Gregory Parker did not enter a plea and was released on $25,000 bail. The Thomleys are scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday. Hope Thomley and lawyers for Beach didn't immediately respond to emails seeking comment Monday, but they have denied wrongdoing in a civil lawsuit that seeks to seize their assets.

"The government believes Hope Thomley is a bad and greedy person with millions of dollars in dirty money. It could not possibly be more wrong about her," wrote lawyer Paul Calli in February in a parallel civil case. "Hope is a wife, mother, and grandmother. A former health care executive, Hope is a self-made woman who has worked hard and worked honestly for everything that she has."

As part of the prosecution, the government is trying to seize $17 million in cash, six vehicles and 16 pieces of real estate from the Thomleys and Beach. Those assets have been frozen in the civil case for more than two years pending the criminal investigation.

Among the health care professionals already convicted is a 78-year-old Ocean Springs physician sentenced to 3½ years in prison. An Alabama nurse practitioner also has pleaded guilty.

One product Advantage offered was a "dietary supplement" made with over-the-counter ingredients for which insurers paid thousands of dollars per bottle, according to court documents.

"Get me rolling on dietary supplements," the indictment alleges Parker texted to Hope Thomley in 2014. "I need to make some cash, and I think I can burn through a lot of that stuff!"

Another formulation contained ketamine, a controlled substance, it said. The Thomleys face additional charges for dispensing that without a valid reason.

Prosecutors say Advantage also waived copayments under the table, even though it wasn't supposed to, because the conspirators knew patients would refuse expensive medications if they had to pay.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16769

Reported Deaths: 803
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds110426
Madison77829
Lauderdale76569
Neshoba73945
Jones70933
Scott66312
Forrest60039
DeSoto59310
Rankin4639
Leake45512
Holmes44431
Copiah3344
Jackson31415
Attala31218
Yazoo2985
Newton2924
Oktibbeha28314
Leflore28238
Lincoln28131
Wayne2803
Monroe26925
Harrison2687
Lamar2525
Lowndes2529
Pearl River21231
Pike20411
Adams20416
Warren19910
Washington1998
Lee1978
Noxubee1956
Covington1832
Bolivar16911
Jasper1684
Clarke15619
Smith15611
Lafayette1564
Kemper15611
Chickasaw14314
Coahoma1324
Clay1254
Winston1241
Carroll11911
Marion1169
Claiborne1165
Yalobusha1116
Grenada1104
Lawrence1071
Simpson1050
Sunflower963
Tate931
Hancock9012
Marshall893
Union897
Itawamba897
Webster885
Panola873
Wilkinson859
Montgomery841
Jefferson Davis823
Tippah7611
Calhoun684
Walthall670
Amite651
Humphreys647
Tunica583
Prentiss533
Choctaw522
Perry513
Pontotoc493
Jefferson421
Tishomingo360
Stone320
Quitman320
Tallahatchie311
Greene301
George302
Franklin292
Alcorn191
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 19387

Reported Deaths: 676
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2341123
Jefferson1927105
Montgomery190544
Tuscaloosa85316
Marshall7149
Franklin5939
Lee56334
Shelby53619
Tallapoosa43566
Butler43121
Walker3973
Elmore38110
Chambers36326
Madison3594
Unassigned3144
Morgan3141
Baldwin2969
Dallas2963
Lowndes26912
Etowah26512
DeKalb2603
Autauga2485
Coffee2401
Sumter2369
Houston2275
Pike2231
Bullock2197
Colbert1972
Hale19210
Russell1870
Barbour1831
Marengo1796
Lauderdale1752
Calhoun1693
Cullman1631
Wilcox1587
Choctaw15310
Clarke1492
St. Clair1372
Randolph1288
Dale1250
Marion12511
Talladega1215
Pickens1215
Limestone1100
Chilton1081
Greene955
Macon944
Winston920
Jackson863
Henry842
Covington831
Crenshaw803
Escambia793
Bibb761
Washington746
Blount641
Lawrence510
Monroe492
Geneva450
Perry430
Conecuh421
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar280
Fayette160
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