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Former Pharmacy President Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for $32 Million Health Care Kickback Scheme

Anonymous 01/18/24 (Thu) 19:26:54 e8197b (17) No.20264728

Former Pharmacy President Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for $32 Million Health Care Kickback Scheme

Thursday, January 18, 2024 For Immediate Release U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – A former president of a pharmacy business was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for his role in a health care kickback conspiracy involving prescriptions for Medicare and TRICARE beneficiaries, Attorney for the United States Vikas Khanna announced today.

Elan Yaish, 54, of Israel, previously pleaded guilty on Aug. 16, 2023, before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas to an information charging him with conspiracy to violate the Federal Anti-Kickback statute. Judge Salas imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court. According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court: From September 2017 to around December 2020, Yaish participated in operating pharmacies, including Apogee Bio-Pharm LLC, in Edison, New Jersey. Yaish and others agreed to engage in a scheme to pay marketing companies to direct prescriptions for expensive medications to the pharmacies.

The marketing companies identified Medicare and TRICARE beneficiaries to target for expensive drugs and contacted the beneficiaries by telephone to pressure them to agree to try expensive medications, such as pain creams, scar creams, eczema creams, and migraine medication. The marketing companies then transmitted recordings of telephone calls with the beneficiaries, together with pre-marked prescription pads for particular drugs that would yield exorbitant reimbursements, to telemedicine companies. The marketers paid the telemedicine companies kickbacks for every beneficiary referred for a prescription, and the telemedicine companies paid doctors to approve the prescriptions. The marketing companies then directed the prescriptions to pharmacies, including Apogee, with which they had kickback arrangements. The pharmacies filled the prescriptions and sought reimbursement from federal health care benefit programs, including Medicare and TRICARE.

The pharmacies, including Apogee, then paid a portion of each reimbursement to the marketing companies as a kickback. As a result of the scheme, Yaish and his conspirators caused a loss to Medicare and other federal health care benefit programs of over $32 million. In addition to the prison term, Judge Salas sentenced Yaish to three years of supervised release and ordered restitution of $32 million.

Attorney for the United States Khanna credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Naomi Gruchacz; and U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Northeast Field Office, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Brian J. Solecki, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine M. Romano of the Health Care Fraud Unit and Barbara Ward, Senior Trial Counsel of the Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Unit, in Newark.

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