Pharmacy Owners, Marketers Charged in Kickback Scheme

According to the indictment, from May 2014 to September 2016, the involved parties allegedly recieved kickbacks for the referral of TRICARE and DOL beneficiaries to obtain expensive compound drugs.

Eight Dallas, Texas-area pharmacy owners and marketers were charged in an indictment unsealed recently for their roles involving approximately $92 million in compound drug claims to TRICARE and the US Department of Labor (DOL), which were allegedly the product of over $9.1 million in illegal kickbacks.

Richard Hall, 48; Scott Schuster, 47; Dustin Rall, 43; George Lock Paret, 34; and Michael Ranelle, 49, all of Fort Worth, Texas; John Le, 43, of Dallas; Quintan Cockerell, 37, of Manhattan Beach, California; and Turner Luke Zeutzius, 36, of Horseshoe Bay, Texas, were each charged in an indictment filed Dec. 12 in the Northern District of Texas with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and pay and receive kickbacks. Hall, Schuster, Rall, and Le were each additionally charged with 4 counts of paying kickbacks. Zeutzius was additionally charged with 2 counts of receiving kickbacks and Ranelle and Cockerell were each charged with one count of receiving kickbacks.

Citing court records, the Dallas Morning News reported that Schuster, Ranelle, Hall, Le and Rall pleaded not guilty to the charges, but that the status of the others who were charged was "unclear."

According to the indictment, from May 2014 to September 2016, Hall, Schuster, Rall, Paret, Le and their co-conspirators allegedly recieved kickbacks for the referral of TRICARE and DOL beneficiaries to obtain expensive compound drugs. Hall, Shuster and Rall were co-owners of Rxpress Pharmacy and Xpress Compounding, compound pharmacies located at 1000 W. Weatherford St. in Fort Worth.

As alleged in the indictment, Rxpress and Xpress were separate in name only; Rxpress Pharmacy and Xpress Compounding employed the same staff, operated out of the same building, and utilized a call center to direct prescriptions depending on whether the prescriptions were for private or federal insurance. The indictment alleges that both companies utilized the same marketers but paid them differently depending on whether they were receiving a commission on a federal or private prescription, in order to disguise the illegal kickback payments on federal prescriptions. Specifically, Hall, Schuster, Rall, Paret and Le allegedly devised a scheme to make kickback payments to marketers through Xpress Compounding for the referral of federal prescriptions. These marketers were allegedly set up as sham “W-2” employees to appear as though they were bona fide employees of Xpress Compounding. At the same time, these marketers were paid as 1099 contractors by Rxpress Pharmacy, the indictment alleges.

The indictment alleges that as a result of the scheme, Zeutzius was paid approximately $4.4 million, Cockerell (through an unnamed person) was paid approximately $2.1 million, and Ranelle was paid approximately $2.6 million in illegal kickbacks, for a total of approximately $9.1 million in illegal kickbacks.

The charges in the indictment are merely allegations and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.