Florida pharmacy owner pleads guilty to fraud scheme

The owner of a Florida pharmacy pleaded guilty on Nov. 6 to federal conspiracy charges for his role in a health care fraud scheme. He will be sentenced at a later date.

The 45-year-old defendant, who is the president and owner of A to Z Pharmacy in Port Richey, admitted to using multiple pharmacies and shell companies to oversee a fraudulent compounding prescription medication scheme. The scheme operated from October 2012 until December 2015 and bilked more than $100 million from private insurance companies, Medicare and military insurer TRICARE.

As part of a plea deal, the defendant pleaded guilty to single counts of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to engage in monetary transactions involving criminally derived property. He faces up to 15 years in prison. Seven of his co-conspirators pleaded guilty at an earlier date. Between them, the eight defendants agreed to forfeit five expensive cars, a racing boat and various properties worth over $7.6 million. The items had been purchased with profits from the fraud scheme.

White collar crimes, such as health care or insurance fraud, can lead to harsh consequences for those who are convicted. Typical penalties often include expensive fines, the forfeiture of personal property and long prison terms. In order to obtain a more favorable outcome, many individuals facing white collar crime charges choose to retain a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney could protect a defendant's rights throughout the legal process, including during police questioning. Legal counsel could also carefully examine the evidence for details that might undermine the prosecution's case. If necessary, the lawyer may negotiate a plea deal that reduces charges and lowers penalties.

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