Customer handing pharmacist prescription

Eight Charged in Texas Health Care Fraud Scheme

Eight people affiliated with at least three Texas pharmacies were charged with offenses related to their participation in a health care fraud scheme involving false claims for expensive compound drugs.

According to the Justice Department, the alleged scheme amounted to roughly $158 million in ill-begot claims.

The defendants charged include:

  • 59-year-old Jamshid Noryian of Austin
  • 53-year-old Dehshid Nourian of Plano
  • 40-year-old Christopher Rydberg of Fort Worth
  • 68-year-old Ashraf Mofid of Van Alstyne
  • 48-year-old Leyla Nourian of Frisco
  • 63-year-old Leslie Benson of Waco
  • 52-year-old Michael Taba of McKinney
  • 47-year-old Kevin Williams of Waxahachie

All of the aforementioned defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Jamshid Noryian, Dehshid Nourian, Christopher Rydberg, Ashraf Mofid, and Leyla Nourian were also charged with conspiracy to launder money and engage in monetary transactions in a criminally derived property.

Allegations in Texas Health Care Fraud Scheme

Between May of 2014 and March of 2017, Jamshid Noryian, Dehshid Nourian, and Rydberg operated Ability Pharmacy, Industrial & Family Pharmacy, and Park Row Pharmacy. During that time, the three defendants allegedly filed forms to transmit payments from the Department of Labor-Office of Workers’ Compensation (DOL-OWCP) to the pharmacies for expensive topical creams used to treat scars, wounds, and pain. These topical creams carried reimbursement rates of up to approximately $28,000 per container.

Mofid, Rydberg, and Leyla Nourian operated a company called Bandoola Pharmaceutical in order to pay kickbacks to doctors in exchange for referring prescriptions of Workers’ Comp patients to the pharmacies, according to the allegations. These payments were allegedly made in the form of “promissory notes” to make it appear as though the kickbacks were loans rather than payments for sending prescriptions to the pharmacies. Prescription pads were allegedly provided to doctors who referred prescriptions to Ability.

The indictment in the Texas health care fraud case accuses Jamshid Noryian of marketing the topical creams to doctors treating Workers’ Comp patients and inducing doctors to send the medically unnecessary prescriptions for compound medications to the pharmacies in his or his affiliates’ control in return for money, free rent and other inducements.

Noryian is also accused of instructing Ability employees to contact patients and doctors and request refills when the pharmacy wasn’t processing sufficient prescriptions, prescribe pain creams unnecessarily when patients had already been prescribed controlled substance medications for pain management, and write prescriptions for compound medications for all patients regardless of whether the medications were wanted or medically necessary.

According to the Texas health care fraud indictment, Michael Taba told his employees to write prescriptions for compound creams for each patient at the end of each day and send the prescriptions to the pharmacies. The medications were not tailored to the medical needs of each patient; they each received the same compound medications.

The indictment further alleges that Noryian, Dehshid Nourian, and Rydberg established and maintained control of bank accounts for their respective pharmacies, into which reimbursement payments based on the false and fraudulent claims were deposited. From these accounts, reimbursement payments were transferred to bank accounts for entities including, among others, Bandoola Pharmaceuticals, Jade and Joy Holdings, and HJLM Holdings, as well as personal bank and investment accounts. The moving of funds was allegedly undertaken in order to conceal the fraud and the proceeds that came from the fraud.

In total, the defendants submitted false and fraudulent claims worth approximately $158 million to the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) through OWCP and received approximately $82 million in payments based on those claims. According to the Department of Justice, the government has already seized over $50 million in assets related to the crimes alleged in the indictment, including a multimillion-dollar home in Austin, Texas.

The indictment contains allegations and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, however, the Defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The money laundering counts carry a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in jail and a $500,000 fine or twice the value of the property involved, whichever is greater.

Health Care Fraud and the Whistleblower

Whistleblowers have been one of the country’s greatest weapons in combatting health care fraud, and qui tam litigation brought under the False Claims Act has seen billions returned to the government. Unfortunately, experts estimate that undetected health care fraud still costs government health care programs roughly $68 billion each year.

If you have information concerning fraud against the government, take the courageous first step and contact the experienced whistleblower attorneys at Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman, or call (855) 948-5098, to discuss your claim. By coming forward, you are not only bringing those accountable to justice, you are helping to preserve the integrity of government programs that millions of Americans rely on every day.

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