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Ex-pharmacist gets 2 years, $7 million bill for role in scheme to bilk Tricare out of more than $100 million
A former pharmacist from Irving has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for his role in a health-care kickback scheme that scammed the military's insurance program out of more than $100 million, court records show.
Ravi Morisetty, 44, is one of 13 defendants, including doctors and marketers, in the Trilogy Pharmacy case, and he is the first to be sentenced. He pleaded guilty last year to his role in the fraud.
The pharmacy's two owners, Jeffrey Fuller and Andrew Baumiller, also have pleaded guilty in the case and are awaiting sentencing.
In his plea deal with federal prosecutors in Dallas, Morisetty agreed that he paid two of Trilogy's marketers about $400,000 in kickbacks in exchange for patients for his own business, Alpha Pharmacy.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn on Friday also ordered Morisetty to pay $7 million in restitution.
But those losses came from an entirely different health-care kickback case -- one out of Houston involving the federal workers compensation program -- for which Morisetty was never charged. Instead, it was considered "relevant conduct" during his sentencing.
Morisetty's lawyer could not be reached Monday for comment.
Tricare provides health coverage for active-duty and retired members of the military and their families. The federal insurance program covers certain prescription drugs, including compounded drugs prescribed by physicians.
Morisetty admitted to paying kickbacks to Richard Cesario and John Cooper, whom he met through Walter Neil Simmons, an Arizona physician who is a co-defendant in the Trilogy case, according to federal court records.
The duo ran CMG RX, a Dallas company that primarily marketed compounded pain and scar creams to current and former U.S. military members and their families on behalf of various compounding pharmacies, officials said.
Cesario and Cooper signed marketing agreements with the compounding pharmacies in which the pharmacies agreed to pay them a percentage of their revenue from Tricare claims, the indictment said.
CMG RX's top marketing tool was a "sham medical study" in which soldiers were paid for getting compounded drugs, including migraine creams and vitamins, through their Tricare prescription benefits, the indictment said.
The study supposedly was done to evaluate the safety and efficacy of compounded drugs.
But the defendants actually used it to compile a list of Tricare beneficiaries who would be paid for agreeing to receive the unnecessary compounded drugs, according to the indictment.
Morisetty admitted that Tricare paid his pharmacy more than $2 million for filling prescriptions for patients he received from Cesario and Cooper.
Morisetty also admitted in plea documents that he paid Today's Marketing Agency illegal kickbacks for the referral of workers compensation patients to Alpha Pharmacy and another pharmacy he owned called Dashwood Pharmacy.
Today's Marketing was run by Jeffrey E. Rose, who is serving a 19-year sentence in federal prison.
Rose set up Today's Marketing to receive kickback money, federal authorities say. He also owned a Houston clinic called Team Work Ready, which sought to provide medical services for federal employees.
Morisetty paid the kickbacks to Rose, disguised as marketing payments, from November 2014 to March 2016, according to court documents.
Morisetty's pharmacies earned about $7 million from the federal workers compensation program for prescriptions that were written for more than 300 patients, court records said.
Morisetty had faced up to 10 years in federal prison, but prosecutors agreed to 24 months, according to his plea documents.
It's unclear whether Morisetty cooperated with the government in its case against Rose. Prosecutors from the Southern District of Texas could not be reached.
©2019 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
While the U.S. military wants to keep roughly 8,600 troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban's deputy leader has just made clear that his group wants all U.S. service members to leave the country as part of any peace agreement.
"The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand," Sirajuddin Haqqani wrote in a story for the New York Times on Thursday.
In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran's most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq.
Among the 2,000 troops stationed there was U.S. Army Specialist Kimo Keltz, who recalls hearing a missile whistling through the sky as he lay on the deck of a guard tower. The explosion lifted his body - in full armor - an inch or two off the floor.
Keltz says he thought he had escaped with little more than a mild headache. Initial assessments around the base found no serious injuries or deaths from the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "All is well!"
The next day was different.
"My head kinda felt like I got hit with a truck," Keltz told Reuters in an interview from al-Asad air base in Iraq's western Anbar desert. "My stomach was grinding."
A video has emerged showing a U.S. military vehicle running a Russian armored truck off the road in Syria after it tried to pass an American convoy.
Questions still remain about the incident, to include when it occurred, though it appears to have taken place on a stretch of road near the Turkish border town of Qamishli, according to The War Zone.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.
Survival expert and former Special Air Service commando Edward "Bear" Grylls made meme history for drinking his own urine to survive his TV show, Man vs. Wild. But the United States Air Force did Bear one better recently, when an Alaska-based airman peed in an office coffee maker.
While the circumstances of the bladder-based brew remain a mystery, the incident was written up in a newsletter written by the legal office of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on February 13, a base spokesman confirmed to Task & Purpose.