Ocean Springs pharmacy accused of defrauding healthcare insurance company

Ocean Springs pharmacy accused of defrauding healthcare insurance company
Around 25 agents helped execute the federal search warrant at Lovelace Drug's last month. (Photo source: WLOX) (Source: Photo WLOX)

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - Two physicians and two registered nurses from Mississippi have been charged in a federal indictment for their roles in a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud Tricare.

Tricare is a healthcare insurance company that serves the military, veterans and their family members, as well as private health programs with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi and United Healthcare of Mississippi.

An employee at Lovelace Drugs confirmed to WLOX the pharmacy named in the indictment is Gardens Pharmacy, which is now doing business as Lovelace Drugs.

Federal agents executed a search warrant at Lovelace Drugs in downtown Ocean Springs Thursday morning.
Federal agents executed a search warrant at Lovelace Drugs in downtown Ocean Springs Thursday morning. (Source: Photo WLOX)

That employee stressed no one working at Lovelace has been indicted or even questioned by the FBI.

In addition, the Lovelace employee said the business cut ties with the doctors and others named in the indictment almost five years ago. Those named are: Shahjahan Sultan, M.D., Thomas Edward Sturdavant, M.D., Freda Cal Covington, R.N. and Fallon Deneem Page, R.N.

Each of those people were charged in various counts in the 15-count indictment.

  • Sultan, Sturdavant, Covington and Page were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and mail fraud.
  • Sultan was 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 two counts of mail fraud, one count of conspiracy to distribute and dispense a controlled substance and two counts of distributing and dispensing a controlled substance.
  • Page was also charged with two counts of mail fraud.

The indictment was unsealed upon the defendants’ arrests Monday.

The four were accused of prescribing and dispensing medically unnecessary compounding medications to individuals just for the purpose of having a compounding pharmacy in Ocean Springs. The indictment describes the term compounding as a mixture of medications created to specifically meet the needs of a patient.

The indictment also accuses the defendants of scheming Tricare and other health care programs to reimburse the pharmacy for more than $7 million for medications prescribed by Sultan and Sturdavant between March 2014 and February 2015. Sultan is accused of being paid at least 25 percent of the reimbursements. Sultan is accused of then paying Sturdavant for prescribing the medication and for recruiting other conspirators who identified and recruited Tricare beneficiaries to write prescriptions to.

Last month, FBI agents searched the drug store. At the time, officers wouldn’t say what they were looking for, and would only confirm that they were executing a search warrant. During the search, agents seized boxes of material, which the employee said contained prescription records.

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

This is an ongoing investigation. We will continue to follow this story as new details emerge.

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