Ten people from Dearborn, Dearborn Heights indicted in large-scale pharmacy fraud scheme

Matthew Schneider Photo courtesy of U.S. Attorney's Office

Source: Press & Guide, By Dave Herndon, December 20, 2019

Seven Dearborn residents and three others from Dearborn Heights were charged Wednesday with multiple counts of pharmaceutical fraud for their alleged involvement in a $46 million insurance scam.

Dearborn residents Mohamad Abou-Khodr, 30; Nabil Chehadeh, 39; Ali El-Moussawi, 29; Bassem Farhat, 46; Hussein Wazne, 50; Bahia Zeidan, 28; and Suzan Berro, 20, along with Dearborn Heights residents Hussein Abdallah, 36; Daniel Haidar, 30; and Linda Fawaz, 25, were charged by United States Attorney Matthew Schneider with the fraud.

A federal grand jury indicted the 10 people on charges including wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.

“The indictment alleges that the defendants brazenly took advantage of programs created by drug manufacturers to help defray the cost of expensive prescription drugs, all in a scheme to steal millions of dollars,” Schneider said. “At a time when so many Michiganders are struggling to afford their medications, this alleged scheme is especially reprehensible. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to uncover and prosecute prescription drug fraud, so we can ensure these assistance programs remain available to help the people of Michigan.”

Schneider was joined in the announcement by Steven M. D’Antuono, special agent in charge of the Detroit FBI office and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office.

“The defendants are alleged to have defrauded a program designed to help patients pay for vital and often high-cost prescription drugs,” D’Antuono said. “I am impressed by the efforts of the FBI, HHS-OIG, and DEA agents who worked tirelessly to uncover the extent of this fraud and to hold these defendants to account.”

The indictment, which was unsealed Dec. 18, alleges that they were operating dozens of pharmacies, mostly in Wayne County, though most were never actually open to the public.

The defendants allegedly worked together to defraud pharmaceutical manufacturers by submitting reimbursement claims to numerous co-pay assistance programs for medications that they neither purchased nor dispensed.

The pharmacies also allegedly submitted claims on behalf of patients who did not exist; many of these purported patient identifies were also allegedly used to submit claims for multiple types of medications.

According to the indictment, claim administrators became suspicious of billing activity at the pharmacies and requested either supporting documentation or on-site audits of defendants’ pharmacies.

In those instances, the defendants allegedly either failed to respond to these requests or refused to submit to the audits.

The indictment alleges that this behavior typically resulted in a given pharmacy becoming unable to submit additional claims to that administrator’s co-pay assistance program. In response, on more than one occasion, the defendants allegedly closed pharmacies under suspicion and then immediately opened a new pharmacy at the same address.

The pharmacies alleged to have been involved this scheme include:

• New Boston RX Pharmacy in Huron Township

• Pro Med Pharmacy, Guardian Pharmacy, Wellmart Pharmacy, and Brite Well RX in Garden City

• Downriver RX Pharmacy, and First Aid Pharmacy, in Lincoln Park

• Newburgh Pharmacy, Med Health Pharmacy, and Ritemed Pharmacy in Westland

• Crittenton RX and Metro RX Pharmacy in Sterling Heights

• Family Health Pharmacy in Southgate

• Mint Pharmacy, Wellgreen’s Pharmacy (a/k/a Danny’s Pharmacy) in Westland

• Levan RX, Nova Pharmacy, and Smart Pharmacy in Livonia

• Clinic RX2, Med Rite Pharmacy, and Smart RX Pharmacy in Dearborn Heights

• Dalcoma Pharmacy in Clinton Township

• Canton RX and Michigan RX Pharmacy in Canton

• Safe Pharmacy in Taylor

• Quest RX, and Sam Pharmacy RX, in Novi

• Wayne Pharma, Wyandotte RX (a/k/a Royal RX) in Wyandotte

• Waterford Pharmacy in Waterford

• Cedar RX in Lansing

• Halas Pharmacy and Family Drug Pharmacy V in Redford