Pharmacist Sentenced in Pill-Recycling Scheme

A Pharmacist in Grand Rapids has been sentenced to 6 years in prison for illegally re-dispensing drugs.

Updated on October 27, 2015

The former chief pharmacist of Kentwood Pharmacy in Michigan has been sentenced to 6 years in prison in addition to a $5000 fine for his role in a pill-recycling scheme.

The pharmacist, Lawrence Hardin, was not alone: 17 other employees and officials, including the pharmacy’s CEO, were also indicted in the scheme after a raid of the company’s headquarters and other offices in November 2010. Only 13 of these individuals have admitted to the crime, not including the CEO. Their licenses have since been suspended.

The scheme involved the illegal restocking and re-dispensing of medications that had already been provided to nursing and adult foster care homes, thereby defrauding Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan up to $60,000,000. Some of the repackaging, allegedly, took place in Hardin's basement.

In addition, Harden was caught on tape stealing from the pharmacy; however, he was still promoted. While all other employees were getting pay cuts, pay was reinstated for Hardin and the rest of the scheme's participants.

US Assistant Attorney Ray Beckering is concerned that more cases like this will turn up in the future. T

he Drug Enforcement Administration recently approved a program placing locked drop boxes in pharmacies for patients to drop off their old prescription medications to be destroyed, and Berkering is worried that some pharmacists seize the opportunity to collect the old medications as "free inventory."

“I am going to be back here in 2 years on a lockbox case,” Beckering told the court. “This is going to be a disaster if the people interested with these drugs do not handle them the right way.”

The former vice president of Kentwood Pharmacy had previously pled guilty to the pill-recycling scheme, among other offenses. Kentwood Pharmacy CEO and alleged ring leader Kim Moulder

has since seen ordered to pay $8.8 million in restitution.