• 72°

3 more sentenced in huge health care fraud scheme

(AP) — Three more people accused of participating in a multimillion-dollar pharmacy scheme were sentenced Thursday in federal court in Mississippi.
U.S. District Senior Judge Keith Starrett sentenced Glenn Beach, 47, of Sumrall, to 13 years, and Hope Thomley, 53, of Hattiesburg to 14 years for conspiring to commit health care fraud and conspiring to commit money laundering and tax evasion. Starrett also sentenced Thomley’s husband, Howard Thomley, 61, of Hattiesburg, to eight years in prison for conspiracy to commit health care fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
Beach and Hope Thomley were also sentenced for their role in a money laundering and tax evasion scheme that was used to conceal the fraudulent proceeds of the compounded medications scheme and evade taxes.
Beach also must pay a monetary judgment of $9.1 million and restitution of $185.4 million. Hope Thomley was ordered to pay $29.2 million and restitution of $189.2 million while Howard Thomley was ordered to pay $3.6 million and restitution of $3.6 million.
Beach and Thomley were both owners of Advantage Pharmacy in Hattiesburg, and Thomley also owned and operated a compound prescription distributor for Advantage Pharmacy. Beach and Hope Thomley were involved in a scheme to defraud health care benefit programs, including TRICARE, by dispensing, distributing, and marketing medications that are specially combined or formulated to meet the individual needs of patients.
Hope Thomley benefited because her marketing company received nearly 50% of the reimbursements that Advantage Pharmacy obtained from compounded medications. She also obtained prescribers’ signatures on blank prescription forms and then filled them out in the names of her children and TRICARE beneficiaries she and her husband recruited.
The three are the latest to be sentenced in the scheme that bilked more than $400 million from insurers.
Brantley Nichols, 44, an oral surgeon, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud in July 2018. He faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Starrett sentenced Nichols in federal court in Hattiesburg on Tuesday. In addition to the jail time, Starrett ordered Nichols to pay nearly $700,000 in restitution and a $75,000 fine, The Hattiesburg American reported.
Prosecutors say Nichols was prescribing high-dollar creams handmade by a Hattiesburg pharmacy without examining patients and pre-signing prescription forms from October 2014 to January 2017 in a scheme to defraud TRICARE and other health benefits providers.
Starrett said he gave Nichols a lighter sentence because Nichols showed he has community and family support, has been doing volunteer work and has not committed any other crimes.
But it was still too serious of a crime to not have any time behind bars, Starrett said, adding there needs to be a deterrent for future young professionals to avoid committing the same type of crimes. “There has to be a message sent, that there are serious consequences.”
In addition, nurse practitioner Gregory Parker, 60, of Laurel, was sentenced to 18 months in prison Tuesday for his role in the scheme and was ordered to pay more than $500,000 in restitution.
The government said Parker had completed an addiction rehabilitation program and was involved with community service and helping others with addiction. Sara Porter, an attorney for the government, said Parker was a different person now.
Parker apologized to the court and to the many victims who were affected by the fraud and talked about his addiction and the work he has done since his recovery.