Walter Beich, a 63-year-old pharmacist from Illinois, pled guilty to a Medicaid and Medicare fraud scheme involving filling prescriptions with counterfeit drugs. According to court records, Beich pled guilty to healthcare fraud and aggravated identity theft. He was facing trial on twelve charges before changing his plea.
Beich’s Medicare Fraud Scheme Involved Counterfeit Drugs
According to the plea agreement, Beich is a pharmacist and the owner of Corwin Pharmacy in Lockport, Illinois. While working there, Beich billed Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies for prescriptions that were either never dispensed or filled with counterfeit drugs.
During his guilty plea, Beich admitted that he “submitted claims for dispensing prescription drugs Lovaza and Niaspan to subscribers, knowing that Corwin Pharmacy had actually secretly dispensed to subscribers less expensive supplements for fish oil and vitamin B3, also called niacin.” He also admitted to substituting a “foreign sourced, non FDA approved” drug for patients with a prescription for Viagra.
The identity theft charge stems from submitting claims for nonexistent prescriptions. Beich billed Medicare and other insurers for prescriptions for several different (and expensive) drugs including Abilify, Advair, Flovent, Levaquin, Proair, Provigil, Singulair, Soma, and Welchol, even though no doctor had prescribed these medicines. He pulled off his scheme for at least three years by stealing the identity of his patients and then creating fake prescriptions to make it appear that he received a phone order from a doctor.
Prosecutors claim his scheme cost the government and insurance companies at least $2.4 million. The two charges carry a maximum combined sentence of 12 years. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, Beich is anticipated to serve a sentence between 81 months (6 years, 9 months) and 111 months (9 years, 3 months). Although the guidelines are advisory only, federal law requires Beich to serve at least 2 years in prison.
Medicare Fraud and Whistleblower Awards
Medicare fraud has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. While some folks claim that healthcare fraud is a victimless crime, it clearly isn’t. Because Medicare and Medicaid are paid with tax dollars, these crimes hurt everyone. Even with private insurance, fraud means higher premiums.
Worse, in this case Beich was sometimes dispensing fish oil or vitamins instead of Lovaza and Niaspan. These prescriptions are used to treat high cholesterol and triglycerides. Niaspan is often prescribed to patients with narrowing of the artieries. Using counterfeit drugs put his patients at risk of stroke and having heart attacks.
Under the federal False Claims Act, whistleblowers with inside information about Medicare fraud can receive an award of up to 30% of whatever the government collects. Illinois also has a Medicaid fraud whistleblower award statute that pays similar awards for those who report misuse of state Medicaid dollars. If that isn’t enough of an incentive, Illinois is one of just two states that has a viable award program for those who report fraud involving private insurance monies.
We don’t know who the whistleblower was in this case or the how prosecutors discovered the fraud. According to the Department of Justice, however, at least one employee of Corwin Pharmacy was in on the scheme. Other employees participated but apparently were unware that some of the prescriptions they were processing were fake.
Whistleblowers are the new American heroes. According to the Justice Department, they save taxpayers billions of dollars each year. They also save countless lives.
Thinking about becoming a whistleblower? To qualify for an award, you must have inside information (“original source”) and generally be the first to report. Claiming an award involves hiring a lawyer and filing a sealed lawsuit in federal court. (Medicaid claims can be filed in state or federal court.)
The Medicare fraud lawyers at MahanyLaw have helped whistleblowers collect tens of millions of dollars in whistleblower awards. Our consultations are confidential and always without charge. If we take your case, you owe us nothing unless we collect money for you.
Worried about retaliation? Whistleblower retaliation is illegal. We can help you get your job back or obtain compensation if you are illegally fired or demoted for reporting fraud.
For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (direct). All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege. You can also visit our Medicare fraud false documentation information page for more information page or our text searchable blog.
Mahany Law – America’s Medicare Fraud Whistleblower Lawyers