A Florida man pleaded guilty on September 27th, 2022 to conspiring to commit health care fraud in an $8.3 million scheme where pharmacy owners paid kickbacks to telemarketers and telemedicine providers to secure orders for unnecessary prescriptions billed to Medicare.
- Murphy and his co-conspirators also paid bribes and kickbacks to telemedicine companies that employed or contracted the physicians who signed for the prescriptions.
- In part distributed through multiple pharmacies, they controlled in a practice known as “recycling.”
- During the scheme, they were reimbursed for $8.3 million by Medicare Part D.
What is a Kickback?
Kickbacks are illegal payments made in exchange for special services or benefits, in this case, Medicare reimbursement. There are several anti-kickback laws in the state of Florida that are outlined in our article, “Anti-Kickback Statutes for Florida Healthcare Providers.”
Remember this, taking advantage of unlawful financial incentives can leave you liable to being punished under one or more of Florida’s anti-kickback laws. You may face high penalties as well as felony charges, and a loss of your medical license.
About the Case
Michael Murphy, 37, of Fort Lauderdale was an investor in Cure Pharmacy in Jacksonville and two other pharmacies that participated in the Medicare program. From November 2019 through March 2021, Murphy and his co-conspirators paid bribes and kickbacks to telemarketing companies in exchange for recruiting Medicare beneficiaries to accept prescriptions—mostly topical creams—that they did not want or need.
Murphy and his co-conspirators also paid bribes and kickbacks to telemedicine companies that employed or contracted the physicians who signed for the prescriptions. These physicians did not have a relationship with the beneficiaries and typically signed the prescriptions after a short phone call with the beneficiary, or with no contact at all.
After obtaining the Medicare information and the signed prescriptions, Murphy and his co-conspirators submitted claims to Medicare for these medically unnecessary medications, sometimes through multiple pharmacies they owned and controlled in a practice known as “recycling.” During the scheme, they were reimbursed for $8.3 million by Medicare Part D.
Learn More > Common Types of Medicare Fraud
Murphy pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud. He will be sentenced at a later date and faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.
His sentence will be determined by a federal district court judge after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Healthcare Fraud & Kickback Defense
If you are a healthcare provider or work in the healthcare space and have been charged with or accused of healthcare fraud or kickbacks, our criminal defense attorneys at Stechschulte Nell can help mitigate the charges you may face.
We are seasoned federal defense attorneys who can support you nationwide. We’ve represented clients in Boston, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and more. Contact our Tampa, FL-based law firm at (813) 280-1244 to discuss the specifics of your case with our experienced criminal defense lawyers.