Friday, July 14, 2017

TOP STORY >> Drugs from Beebe store evidence in federal bust

By RICK KRON Leader staff writer

Drugs taken in a Beebe pharmacy break-in more than a year ago are evidence in one of the largest ever health-care fraud enforcement actions taken by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, involving 412 charged defendants across 41 federal districts, including Arkansas.

Details of the arrests and charges were released Thursday.

Among the defendants are 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, all alleged to have participated in health care fraud schemes involving approximately $1.3 billion in false billings.

In Arkansas, Patrick C. Harris, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District unsealed three indictments charging 24 defendants in Arkansas schemes, including the Beebe break in, intended to divert pharmaceutical pills to the streets.

In the first Arkansas case, charges stem from an early-morning burglary on Feb. 25, 2016, of the Health-Way pharmacy in Beebe.

On Dec. 7, 2016, the four suspects in the burglary, Albert Ray Ferguson, Jr., Thristian Davante Duplechin, Corry Wayne Cornett, and Cory Jermaine Lewis, all from Houston, Texas, were charged with conspiracy to break in a business premises.

The gangs stole more than 120,000 Schedule II pills during these burglaries, with a street value of more than $1 million.

In the second Arkansas case a federal Grand Jury charged Erik Edson Turner, of Flippin, and two others with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute Schedule II controlled substances without an effective prescription.

Over the course of two years, Turner and individuals working on his behalf obtained thousands of oxycodone pills with a street value in excess of $150,000.

In the third state case, investigators uncovered a sophisticated prescription-forgery operation headed by Michael McClellan, 32, of North Little Rock.

In this scheme, McClellan created fraudulent prescriptions using computer templates that either McClellan or other individuals then filled at local pharmacies.