Two defendants were arrested Tuesday on federal charges in what federal prosecutors say was a scheme involving a prescription cream that cost union health insurance plans more than $22 million.
Two other defendants named in a grand jury indictment are expected to surrender to authorities on Wednesday, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The alleged scheme involves Orange County-based Professional Compounding Pharmacy, which operated in La Habra and Brea, Mrozek said.
The indictment alleges health care fraud, mail fraud, kickbacks and money laundering in a scheme to generate prescriptions for a medically unnecessary compound crime medications, which in some instances cost as much as $15,000 per tube, Mrozek said.
Two phony “pain clinics” in Lawndale and National City were allegedly involved in the scheme to recruit beneficiaries of the TRICARE and International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s Pacific Maritime Association Welfare Plan, Mrozek said. Beneficiaries of the plan were paid $200 to see doctors conducting phony pain studies on the creams, prosecutors alleged.
Medical professionals and marketers were paid kickbacks to write prescriptions, prosecutors allege.
The four defendants named in the indictment are:
–James Nate Bell, 38, of Anaheim Hills, who owns Professional Compounding Pharmacy;
–Regina Piehl, 66, of Pacific Palisades;
–Dr. Michael Edwards, 52, of Huntington Beach and;
–Sara Samhat, 45, of Huntington Beach.
Federal agents arrested Bell and Piehl Tuesday. Edwards and Samhat were expected to surrender Wednesday morning in Santa Ana.
Prosecutors say TRICARE lost about $19 million, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union plan lost about $3 million.