LITTLE ROCK -- An Alpharetta, Ga., man who worked as a medical sales representative pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to involvement in a scheme to bilk the military insurer Tricare out of millions of dollars by recruiting doctors to prescribe high-cost prescriptions from compounding pharmacies to be delivered to beneficiaries who didn't need the medications.
In the scheme, doctors and beneficiaries were paid kickbacks for their involvement in violation of the federal anti-kickback statute.
Kenneth Myers, 43, formerly of Maumelle, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kristine G. Baker to one count of conspiracy to generate kickbacks and generate fraudulent prescriptions in a scheme that defrauded the military insurer out of an estimated $12 million between 2015 and 2018 in the Eastern District of Arkansas alone. He is the ninth defendant in the Eastern District of Arkansas to plead in the matter.
Investigations began across the country after Tricare paid nearly $2 billion for compounded prescription drugs in 2015 alone, constituting an 18-fold increase over previous years.
Myers appeared before Baker via video conference link, as did his attorneys, Sonia Fonticiella and Latrece Gray. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Morgan was present in the courtroom, as was Baker.
Myers was indicted along with Derek Clifton, a former Baxter County High School basketball coach turned medical sales rep who was sentenced to four years in prison for his part in the scheme, and Dr. Joe David "Jay" May of Alexander.
Myers collected nearly $70,000 for recruiting Tricare beneficiaries to receive expensive compounded drugs, for which Tricare paid over $340,000. Myers acknowledged offering Tricare beneficiaries money to receive the drugs and that medical providers, including May, rubber-stamped those prescriptions without consulting the Tricare beneficiaries.
The compounded drugs in question included pain creams, scar creams, supplements and other compounds that prosecutors said were prescribed to patients who did not consult with the physician writing the prescription and often had no need of the drugs, but would receive payment for accepting the prescriptions.