A former Mississippi pharmacist was sentenced today to 10 years in the Southern District of Mississippi for a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud TRICARE and private insurance companies by paying bribes to distributors for returning medically unnecessary prescriptions. This conduct resulted in more than $180 million in fraudulent billings, including more than $50 million paid by federal health care programs.
According to court documents, Mitchell “Chad” Barrett, 55, now of Gulf Breeze, Fla., and formerly of Mississippi, participated in a scheme to defraud TRICARE and other health care benefit programs by distributing medically unnecessary compound drugs. Barrett was licensed as a pharmacist in Mississippi and co-owned various compounding pharmacies. Under this program, Barrett has adjusted prescription formulas to ensure the highest reimbursement regardless of medical necessity. He solicited recruiters to obtain prescriptions for high-margin compound drugs and paid these recruiters commissions based on the percentage of reimbursements paid by pharmacy benefit managers and healthcare benefit programs, including commissions on claims reimbursed by TRICARE. He further systematically and systematically waived and/or reduced copayments to be paid by beneficiaries and members, and used a purported copayment assistance program to create the false impression that his pharmacy and his affiliated pharmacies had received co-payments.
Barrett pleaded guilty on August 25, 2021 to conspiracy to engage in criminal property monetary transactions. In addition to the jail sentence, Barrett was ordered to pay restitution and forfeit all assets related to his ill-gotten gains.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca for the Southern District of Mississippi; Deputy Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigations Division; and Special Agent in Charge Cyndy Bruce of the Southeast Field Office of the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DoD OIG-DCIS) made the announcement.
The FBI Field Office in Jackson and the DoD OIG-DCIS are investigating the case.
Trial Attorneys Emily Cohen and Alejandra Arias of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathlyn Van Buskirk of the Southern District of Mississippi are pursuing the case with the help of Sara Porter and Dustin Davis of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.