The US Military has contracts with certain pharmacies all over the country so that soldiers, their families, and veterans can get their prescriptions filled there. A pharmacist at one of these places was found guilty of stealing from the Armed Forces in 2022. She is going to prison now because of what she did.
Sandy Mai Trang Nguyen, age 42, was found guilty by a jury last year of one count of blocking a federal audit and 21 counts of healthcare fraud. On April 3, US District Judge Otis D. Wright II gave her a 180-month prison sentence and told her to pay back $11,098,756.
Nguyen worked as a pharmacist at the Irvine Wellness Pharmacy in Orange County, Calif. (IWP). From 2014 to May 2015, the pharmacist and the people who worked for her filled about 1,150 prescriptions for painkillers that were made just for the person. Tricare, which is the military’s health insurance, paid the closed pharmacy tens of thousands of dollars for each prescription.
Orange County Pharmacist Sentenced to 15 Years in Federal Prison for Helping to Defraud U.S. Military’s Health Plan Out of $11.1 Million: Sandy Mai Trang Nguyen, a licensed Orange County pharmacist, has been sentenced to 180 months in federal prison for… https://t.co/pzgLeY7qAV— FBI Los Angeles (@FBILosAngeles) April 4, 2023
A press release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California says that the Tricare insurance information was given after the beneficiaries were asked for it. These patients were given prescriptions they didn’t want or need, and many of them never even saw a doctor. Marketers sent in the prescriptions electronically, and they were paid as much as 50% in kickbacks. Nguyen’s pharmacy then sent them to Tricare to be paid back.
Patients were also sent bills by the pharmacy. Even though they thought the medicine was fully covered, they were asked to pay thousands of dollars in co-payments. The money was never paid to the pharmacy. Some families got more than one prescription for the same medicine, according to the news release.
Not only Nguyen was arrested and charged for being part of the scheme, but so were other people. Marcus Orlando Armstrong, who is 56 years old, was given a prison sentence of 9.5 years. Alexander Michael Semenik, 51, and Leslie Andre Ezidore, 53, both pleaded guilty and are now waiting to find out what their sentences will be.