Salem pharmacist charged with health care fraud
A one-count criminal information was filed charging a Salem pharmacist with health care fraud, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
Bruce E. Franken, 52, was excluded in 2003 from participating in all federal health care programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, for a minimum of 10 years as a result of his felony conviction, according to the information.
“This defendant was specifically barred from billing programs such as Medicaid because of his criminal past,” Dettelbach said. “Our office will continue to stamp out waste, fraud and abuse of all federal programs, particularly those that affect our health care system.”
From May 14, 2009, through July 14, 2011, Franken worked as a pharmacist at J.H. Lease Pharmacy, 229 North Ellsworth Avenue, Salem. He filled prescriptions for Medicaid recipients even though he knew he was excluded from participation in all federal health care programs.
As a result of Franken’s unauthorized and fraudulent claims, Medicaid was billed and subsequently paid these prescriptions that Franken was prohibited from providing in the amount of $301,550, according to the information.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after a review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, the defendants’ roles in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. The sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases will be less than the maximum.
This case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Chelsea Rice and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Constance Nearhood following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General.
An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilty. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.