Medicaid drug-reselling fraud crackdown targets 48 people

Posted July 18, 2012, at 9:25 p.m.

NEW YORK — The United States charged 48 people with taking part in a “massive” Medicaid fraud scheme to divert and traffic hundreds of millions of dollars in prescription drugs around the country.

More than a dozen people were arrested Tuesday in New York by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said Peter Donald, a spokesman for the FBI’s New York office.

An indictment unsealed Tuesday in federal court in New York charges 42 people with obtaining free or low-cost drugs to treat HIV, schizophrenia and asthma through Medicaid and re-selling them. Six more people were charged in a separate criminal complaint. Medicaid is the federal-state program to help cover the health-care costs of people with low incomes.

“The defendants and their co-conspirators profit by exploiting the difference between the cost to the patient of obtaining bottles of prescription drugs through Medicaid — which typically is zero — and the hundreds of dollars per bottle that pharmacies pay to purchase those drugs,” prosecutors in the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in the felony indictment.

To reap maximum profits, the scheme targeted the most expensive drugs, including HIV medications such as Atripla, which costs $1,635 a bottle, and Trizivir, which costs $1,347 a bottle. The Medicaid recipients sold the drugs to corrupt distribution companies, which acted as wholesale distributors, thereby concealing the origin of the medications.

The case is part of a crackdown on the illegal reselling of prescription drugs, Donald said. Arrests are “ongoing” and 35 people have been taken into federal custody so far, he said.

Arizona sheriff says Obama’s birth certificate is fraudulent

LOS ANGELES — Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio says that volunteer investigators working for him have concluded that President Barack Obama’s birth certificate is not legitimate.

The Maricopa County sheriff made his remarks Tuesday at a news conference, saying: “At the very least, I can tell you this, based on all of the evidence presented and investigated, I cannot in good faith report to you that these documents are authentic.”

He added: “My investigators believe that the long-form birth certificate was manufactured electronically and that it did not originate in a paper format as claimed by the White House.”

The latest pronouncements are a return to the issue for Arpaio, who is seeking re-election in November. Further, they come as the federal government is scheduled to begin Thursday its civil trial against Arpaio, accused of racially profiling Latinos.

That suit is part of a chain of federal civil rights litigation against Arpaio, who’s made a career out of championing conservative issues, such as tough stands on law and order, illegal immigration and, of late, the so-called birther issue.

Attack on Israeli tourist bus in Bulgaria kills 7

SOFIA, Bulgaria — Israel vowed to strike back at Iran for a brazen daylight bombing Wednesday that killed at least seven people on a bus full of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria.

The bombing was the latest in a series of attacks attributed to Iran that have targeted Israelis and Jews overseas and threatened to escalate a shadow war between the two arch-enemies. Iran has denied involvement in the past but did not comment on Wednesday’s attack.

President Barack Obama termed it a “barbaric terrorist attack” and called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pledge U.S. help in finding the perpetrators.

The blast gutted the bus at the airport in the quiet Black Sea resort city of Burgas, some250 miles east of the capital, Sofia, where the Israelis had just arrived on a charter flight from Tel Aviv carrying 154 people, including eight children.

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