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

news
DoD photo

A Texas woman has pleaded guilty to her involvement in a multi-million dollar Tricare scheme. Of those who have already pleaded guilty in this matter and are awaiting sentencing is a medical assistant from Conway.


Jennifer Sorenson, 41, of McKinney, Texas, on Wednesday pleaded guilty in the United States Eastern District Court of Arkansas to conspiring to violate the Anti-Kickback statute, U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland said in an announcement.

Following her guilty plea, Sorenson faces up to five years in prison and could be ordered to pay a $250,000 fine.

The Texas woman is the seventh to plead guilty in the Tricare scheme.

In October, Brad Duke, 44, of Little Rock, Charlotte Leija, 38, of Conway, Michael "Chance" Beeman, 48 of Maumelle and Michael Sean Brady, 50, of Little Rock each pleaded guilty for their separate roles in the scheme.

Chris Givens, a spokesman for the Eastern District of Arkansas, said Duke orchestrated the scheme.

Patient recruiters forwarded beneficiary insurance to Duke, and from there it was routed to Leija -- a local medical assistant. Leija was instructed to file the prescriptions under the doctor's name under which she worked for.

In less than a year, the Tricare scheme generated more than $10 million in compound prescriptions for more than 100 Tricare beneficiaries stretching across the nation from as far west as Chula Vista, California, to as far east as Foxborough, Massachusetts.

"Duke marketed drugs for a Mississippi compounding pharmacy, earning commission whenever affiliated doctors prescribed its drugs," Givens said. "For a time in 2014 and 2015, Tricare (our military's health insurer) paid exorbitant sums -- up to tens of thousands of dollars per patient, per month -- for certain compounded drugs. Duke sought to capitalize on this by paying one set of kickbacks to Patient Recruiters to send him Tricare beneficiary information and another set of kickbacks to Leija to rubber stamp prescriptions in their names."

Duke paid his patient recruiters more than $2 million for seeking out Tricare beneficiaries. Leija received more than $250,000 for issuing the prescriptions.

Hiland has said said his office works hard to pinpoint criminals taking advantage of other residents and will continue to do so.

"Duke's scheme resulted in millions of dollars of fraud and waste to our taxpaying citizens," he said. "This office is determined to root out the criminal fraud in our nation's health care programs."

More charges involving additional defendants are expected to follow.

"These pleas are a reflection of Duke's greed to promote prescription for compounded drugs in a kickback scheme for his own profit," Diane Upchurch, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Little Rock Field Office, said. "The United States Attorney's Office, HHS-OIG, and the FBI will aggressively pursue providers who violate the law for personal gain."

Acting Special Agent in charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General's (HHS-OIG) Dallas Regional Office Artie DeLaneuville said these types of schemes affect residents nationwide.

"Any time fraudulent claims are submitted for payment, the nation's health insurance programs suffer," he said. "Along with our law enforcement partners, this office will continue the important mission of protecting the financial integrity of our nation's health care systems and bringing to justice those individuals who deliberately manipulate those systems to obtain federal dollars to which they are not entitled, especially funds designated for providing vital health care services to our military veterans."

Anyone who was approached or knows someone who was approached about getting compounded prescription drugs should notify officials by email via usaare.TRICAREtips@usdoj.gov.

———

©2018 Log Cabin Democrat, Conway, Ark. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

WATCH NEXT:

Seven of the twelve Soldiers participating in the Army National Guard Military Funeral Honors Level 2 course at Fort Indiantown Gap practice folding the flag April 25. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Zane Craig)

Retired Army Master Sgt. Mark Allen has died 10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for deserter Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.

Allen died on Saturday at the age of 46, according to funeral information posted online.

Read More Show Less

For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.

"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.

In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.

"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."

Read More Show Less
Defense Secretary Mark Esper (Associated Press photo)

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday he and the Pentagon will comply with House Democrats' impeachment inquiry subpoena, but it'll be on their own schedule.

"We will do everything we can to cooperate with the Congress," Esper said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Just in the last week or two, my general counsel sent out a note — as we typically do in these situations — to ensure documents are retained."

Read More Show Less

Most of the U.S. troops in Syria are being moved out of the country as Turkish forces and their Arab allies push further into Kurdish territory than originally expected, Task & Purpose has learned.

Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, leaving a residual force of between 100 and 150 service members at the Al Tanf garrison, a U.S. official said.

"I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday's edition of CBS News' "Face the Nation."'

Read More Show Less

BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Women affiliated with Islamic State and their children fled en masse from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria on Sunday after shelling by Turkish forces in a five-day-old offensive, the region's Kurdish-led administration said.

Turkey's cross-border attack in northern Syria against Kurdish forces widened to target the town of Suluk which was hit by Ankara's Syrian rebel allies. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.

Turkey is facing threats of possible sanctions from the United States unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports to Turkey. The Arab League has denounced the operation.

Read More Show Less