Pharmacist charged with health care fraud

Staff report


A Salem pharmacist has been charged federally with health-care fraud in a one-count information.

Bruce E. Franken, 52, was charged with filling prescriptions for Medicaid recipients after he knew he was excluded from participating in all federal health-care programs for at least 10 years beginning in 2003 because of a felony conviction.

The new charge, filed Thursday in federal court in Cleveland, is based on Franken’s purported activities between May 14, 2009, and July 14, 2011, while he worked as a pharmacist at the J.H. Lease Pharmacy, 229 N. Ellsworth Ave., the U.S. attorney said.

Medicaid, a state and federally funded medical program for low-income people, was billed for and paid for $301,550 worth of prescriptions Franken wasn’t authorized to fill, the U.S. attorney said.

Franken’s state pharmacy license, first issued in June 1984, expires Sunday and is listed as active in renewal.

The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy revoked Franken’s pharmacy license in January 2002 after finding that he stole drugs from his employer, the Orient Correctional Institution, between October 1994 and August 2000.

The board reinstated his license in an April 2003 settlement, however, after a judge in Franklin County Common Pleas Court reversed part of the board’s order and sent the case back for further action.

The new federal case was investigated by the inspector general’s office at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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