Medicare fraud prosecutions usually target pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and healthcare providers. We have seen hundreds of prosecutions in recent years, everything from pharmaceutical companies encouraging doctors to use their drugs for unapproved uses to hospitals paying kickbacks to doctors who admit large number of patients. The most recent prosecution by the Department of Justice, however, represents a front in the war on Medicare fraud. A pharmaceutical sales representative from Kentucky was criminally charged for his role in two kickback schemes.
Earlier this week, Terrence Tackett pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of a criminal investigation of a healthcare offense. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to a criminal complaint filed in a Boston federal court on May 2nd, Tackett was a sales rep for an unnamed diagnostic test company. He sold these tests to medical practices in Kentucky. Those sales occurred between 2012 and 2013. The complaint said he gave money and gift cards as kickbacks in order to have doctor’s offices purchase his company’s products.
Between 2013 and 2015, Tackett worked for a Boston pharmaceutical company. Prosecutors say once again that he gave money and gift cards to induce doctors to prescribe drugs made by his new employer.
Federal Anti Kickback Statute
Ironically, Tackett wasn’t charged with violations of the federal Anti Kickback statute. That laws says it is criminal to pay bribes or kickbacks in the hopes of inducing someone to prescribe a certain drug. Congress passed the anti kickback legislation because it believes healthcare decisions should be based on the best needs of the patient and not on profits or financial motives.
Court records suggest that Tackett may be cooperating in a large investigation. We believe that because he pleaded guilty immediately after being charged and before even being indicted. The criminal complaint also does name the pharmaceutical company or the diagnostic test supplier. A final clue is the presence of FDA and the Employee Benefits Security Administration special agents. These factors all suggest that a much larger investigation is underway.
Medicare Fraud Whistleblower Awards and Kickbacks
The federal False Claims Act pays awards to whistleblowers with inside information about fraud to the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Here, prosecutors say that both the diagnostic test and prescription medication sold by Tackett were covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
The person paying the kickback can be responsible for significant penalties. Under the False Claims Act, between 15% and 30% of these penalties can be paid to the whistleblower who brought forward the information.
We suspect that Tackett was not acting alone and that the still unnamed companies he worked for were complicit in the Medicare fraud. If they were knowing participants both the pharmaceutical and diagnostic testing companies can be on the hook for the kickbacks.
As youngsters, we all remember parents and teachers telling us to come clean and get in front of a problem. Of course, if we failed to do so we knew there would be consequences.
Tackett had the opportunity to come clean and perhaps even earn an award for reporting misconduct. Instead, he is now a 49-year-old convicted felon facing possible prison when sentenced later this year.
If you have knowledge of kickbacks or illegal payments made in the healthcare industry, come clean or risk going to jail. Now that prosecutors have shown a willingness to charge uncooperative sales reps, the choice is clear.
MahanyLaw Protects Pharma Sales Reps and Whistleblowers
In our experience, the Justice Department is not looking for the little fish. Tackett was probably charged because he lied. If you have information about off label pharmaceutical sales, kickbacks or other forms of Medicare fraud, call us. We can help insure that you are not prosecuted for following company orders and help you receive an award for your information.
Awards under the False Claims Act (also called a qui tam lawsuit) can only be paid after one files a sealed complaint in federal court. We have extensive experience with whistleblower claims and have helped our clients collect over $100 million in whistleblower awards.
For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by phone (direct dial) at . You can also visit our Medicare fraud information page. All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept confidential.
MahanyLaw – America’s Whistleblower Lawyers