The Pentagon blew $65 million on fake scar cream nobody wanted

Bullet Points

A former Marine helped recruit service members for a scheme to bilk the Department of Defense for cash by purchasing tubes of scar cream that did nothing to treat scars for insane prices, according to a remarkable investigation by the Nashville Tennessean.


  • Two doctors and a nurse at the Tennessee clinic have already pleaded guilty to defrauding Tricare to the tune of $65 million, while several other suspects, including the former Marine and employees at a Utah-based pharmacy, have already admitted to their role in the scheme.
  • The scam itself was simple, according to the Tennessean: "The Marine was being paid to get medicine he didn't need. A Tennessee doctor he had never met wrote him a medicinal cream prescription, which was being filled by a pharmacy in Utah. The military covered the bill and the Marine got a cash kickback from somebody."
  • The medicine Mederma, supposedly used to treat pain and scars, runs for about $30 a tube on Amazon; according to the investigation, the Tennessee pharmacy was prescribing the stuff to Marines at $14,500 a tube as far back as 2015.
  • Court documents reviewed by The Tennessean indicate that the recruiters, led by former Marine Joshua Morgan, "targeted Marines around Camp Pendleton, often by convincing the Marines they were joining a drug trial for the pain and scar creams. Marines were paid about $300 in illegal kickbacks each month," according to the investigation.
  • According to a 2015 CBS News report, the scar cream scheme succeeded by exploiting a loophole in Tricare regarding "compounded" medications which rely on mixing several medicines into a single treatment — medications that were fully covered by Tricare despite the absence of formal reviews of their effectiveness by the Food and Drug Administration
  • "We're on track this year to spend over $2 billion unless we get our hands around this," former Tricare chief Maj. Gen. Richard Thomas said in the 2015 CBS report. "It's just been astronomical, an explosion of the charges in a relatively short period of time."

SEE ALSO: Texas Woman Pleads Guilty In Multi-Million Dollar Tricare Fraud Scheme

(Air Force photo / Tech Sgt. Oneika Banks)

Kirtland Air Force Base isn't much different from the world beyond its gates when it comes to dealing with mental illnesses, a base clinical psychologist says.

Maj. Benjamin Carter told the Journal the most frequent diagnosis on the base is an anxiety disorder.

"It's not a surprise, but I anticipate about anytime in the population in America, about 20% of the population has some form of diagnosable anxiety disorder, and it's no different in the military," he said.

Leading the way among the anxiety disorders, he said, were post-traumatic stress disorder "or something like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder."

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(National Archives / Marine Corps Photo / WO Obie Newcomb, Jr., November 1943)

The DNA of a niece and nephew, who never met their uncle, has helped identify the remains of the Kansas Marine who died in WWII.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that 21-year-old U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Raymond Warren was identified using DNA and circumstantial evidence. Warren had been buried in a cemetery in the Gilbert Islands, where he was killed when U.S. forces tried to take secure one of the islands from the Japanese.

The Battle of Tarawa lasted from Nov. 20 to Nov. 23, 1943, and claimed the lives of 1,021 U.S. marines and sailors, more than 3,000 Japanese soldiers and an estimated 1,000 Korean laborers before the U.S. troops seized control, the agency said.

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(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Daniel Snider)

Arizona lawmakers are vowing to fight a plan by the Air Force to start retiring some of the nation's fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack jets — a major operation at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base — as part of a plan to drop some older, legacy weapon systems to help pay for new programs.

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a former A-10 pilot, and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., both vowed to fight the move to retire 44 of the oldest A-10s starting this year.

During a press briefing last week, Air Force officials unveiled plans to start mothballing several older platforms, including retiring some A-10s even as it refits others with new wings.

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MOSCOW/SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un was filmed riding through the snow on a white stallion last year, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on 12 purebred horses from Russia, according to Russian customs data.

Accompanied by senior North Korean figures, Kim took two well-publicized rides on the snowy slopes of the sacred Paektu Mountain in October and December.

State media heralded the jaunts as important displays of strength in the face of international pressure and the photos of Kim astride a galloping white steed were seen around the world.

North Korea has a long history of buying pricey horses from Russia and customs data first reported by Seoul-based NK News suggests that North Korea may have bolstered its herd in October.

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Screenshot of a propaganda video featuring former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A high-profile local Taliban figure who announced and justified the 2012 attack on teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has escaped detention, Pakistan's interior minister confirmed a few days after the militant announced his breakout on social media.

Former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, who claimed responsibility on behalf of his group for scores of Taliban attacks, proclaimed his escape on Twitter and then in an audio message sent to Pakistani media earlier this month.

The Pakistani military, which had kept Ehsan in detention for three years, has declined to comment but, asked by reporters about the report, Interior Minister Ijaz Shah, said: "That is correct, that is correct."

Shah, a retired brigadier general, added that "you will hear good news" in response to questions about whether there had been progress in hunting down Ehsan.

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