Crime scene

Crime scene

WASHINGTON — A nurse from Soso was included in the latest round of indictments in a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud TRICARE, officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

Fallon Deneem Page, 36, an R.N. from Soso, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health-care fraud and two counts of mail fraud, according to the indictment that was unsealed last week after she was arrested. She and another nurse, 54-year-old Freda Cal Covington of Hattiesburg, were also charged along with Drs. Shahjahan Sultan, 37, of Madison and Thomas Edward Sturdavant, 56, of Kingsport, Tenn.

They were charged in a 15-count indictment in the Southern District of Mississippi for their roles in a scheme to bilk the health-care benefit program that serves U.S. military, veterans and their family members, as well as private health-care benefit programs Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi and United Healthcare of Mississippi.

All were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health-care fraud and mail fraud. Sultan was also charged with two counts of mail fraud, one count of conspiracy to distribute and dispense a controlled substance, two counts of distributing and dispensing a controlled substance, one count of conspiracy to pay and receive health-care kickbacks and four counts of paying health-care kickbacks.  

Sturdavant was also charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and dispense a controlled substance and two counts of distributing and dispensing a controlled substance. 

The indictment alleges that the four participated in a scheme to prescribe and dispense medically unnecessary compounded meds, some of which included ketamine, a controlled substance, to individuals, at times without first examining them, for the purpose of having an Ocean Springs-based compounding pharmacy dispense the meds.  

In addition, the indictment alleges that, between March 2014 and February 2015, the defendants’ scheme caused TRICARE and private health-care benefit programs to reimburse the compounding pharmacy more than $7 million for dispensing the compounded medications prescribed by Sultan and Sturdavant. The indictment further alleges that Sultan was paid at least 25 percent of the reimbursements received from health-care benefit programs, including TRICARE, for compounded medications prescribed by Sultan and Sturdavant. Sultan is alleged to have then paid Sturdavant for prescribing compounded medications to TRICARE beneficiaries and to have paid other co-conspirators for identifying and recruiting TRICARE beneficiaries to receive compounded medications.

The charges were announced by Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst of the Southern District of Mississippi, Acting Special Agent in Charge Steven J. Jensen of the FBI’s Jackson Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Cyndy Bruce of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s Southeast Field Office.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case was investigated by the FBI and DCIS.  

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. 

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