Pharmacy Manager Pleads To Drug Diversion Scheme
By: John A. Schwab
Yesterday, a pharmacy manager from North Carolina pled guilty to a two-count information alleging conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering in a scheme to divert prescription drugs – intended to fill patient prescriptions – which were resold at higher prices to unauthorized drug wholesalers. The information, filed in federal court in the Western District of North Carolina, alleged that, between 2011 and 2014, Karen Turner used her pharmacy businesses to purchase prescription drugs purportedly for her pharmacies but that were instead sold at a markup through her wholesale businesses.
Turner used her relationship with Managed Health Care Associates, Inc. (MHCA), a group purchasing organization that negotiated discount prices for prescription drugs on behalf of MHCA’s members. Ms. Turner purchased drugs from MHCA between 2011 and 2014 including “shortage drugs” that were in scarce supply. Turner maintained her pharmacies’ memberships with MHCA so that she could buy prescription drugs at low contract prices available strictly for MHCA members. To maintain her membership with MHCA, she falsely represented that the prescription drugs would be dispensed at the pharmacy. However, in reality, Turner transferred the purchased drugs to her wholesale businesses, North, Inc. and Liberty Wholesale, LLC, to be distributed at higher prices. The United States further alleged that the profits from the fraudulent scheme were laundered through a series of bank accounts controlled by Turner.
In her plea agreement, the United States and Ms. Turner stipulated that the loss under §2B1.1 of the Guidelines was more than $550,000 but less than $1.5 million. The parties also stipulated to a 14 level increase based on the loss amount and a 1 level increase under §2S1.1(2)(A) for money laundering. Ms. Turner also agreed to forfeit significant property associated with the scheme, including over $400,000 in various bank accounts, a note with a face value of $192,000, and real property.
What Happens Next?
Ms. Turner’s sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.