Pharmacy Owner Facing Federal Charges for Fraudulent Reimbursement Claims

SEPTEMBER 24, 2018
Kristen Coppock, MA, Editor
A pharmacy owner facing an indictment charging her with submitting millions of dollars in fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid is expected to be arraigned today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, according to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).

Aleah Mohammed, aka “Aleah Haniff,” 33, of Queens, New York, was the owner and operator of 4 pharmacies: Superdrugs Inc., Superdrugs I Inc., Superdrugs II Inc. and S&A Superdrugs II Inc. Her pharmacies received approximately $7.9 million in fraudulent reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, from approximaely May 2015 through June 2018, when Mohammed was arrested on the complaint, DOJ officials said in a press release.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said in a prepared statement that the indictment alleges Mohammed stole millions from the taxpayer-funded programs, and he applauded efforts by investigators to uncover acts of fraud. “This case is another example of the outstanding work of the Department’s Medicare Fraud Strike Forces, which are focused on safeguarding federally funded health care programs and vigorously prosecuting those who seek to defraud them,” Benczkowski said, in his statement.

The FBI and the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General New York Region (HHS-OIG),  investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Trial Attorney Andrew Estes of the Fraud Section is in charge of the prosecution.

According to the indictment, Mohammed filed reimbursement claims for drugs that were never prescribed nor dispensed, and were not medically necessary for their assigned patients. The claims were filed for medications to treat HIV and other conditions.

Mohammed allegedly used illegally-obtained funds to purchase luxury items, including a Porsche and jewelry, and gave money to family members and known associates, according to the indictment. Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert of HHS-OIG, said the alleged fraud was motivated only by personal greed. 

“This indictment should serve as a warning to any health care provider daring to use Medicare and Medicaid as a vehicle to steal money," said Lampert, in a prepared statement. "We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue those who seek to undermine taxpayer-funded health care programs intended for our most vulnerable Americans."

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI New York Field Office, also issued prepared statements on the case, emphasizing the significance of the alleged theft to taxpayers.

“As alleged in the indictment, Mohammed used her pharmacies to steal from publicly funded health care programs and fund her lavish lifestyle,” said Donoghue.  “This Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to holding accountable fraudsters who seek to enrich themselves at the expense of vital taxpayer-funded programs upon which so many Americans rely.”

Sweeney added the the ultimate goal is to stop people from committing fraud, and seeing stolen money be utilized for the benefit of patients and instead. “These investigations matter because the subjects are stealing money each and every one of us pays in taxes to fund these programs. What adds insult to injury, defrauding the government and stealing money is rarely about anything more than spending money on frivolous things like pricy jewelry and fast cars.” 

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in 12 cities across the country, has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion, according to the DOJ.


Reference

Owner of New York City pharmacies charged in scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid [news release]. DOJ Office of Public Affairs. Published September 24, 2018. Accessed September 24, 2018. 

 

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