Twin Brother Pharmacists Sentenced To 42 Months In Prescription Drug Scam
By: Christopher A. Iacono
Pharmacists, and twin brothers, William and Robert Carlucci, owners of the West Orange Pharmacy were sentenced to 42-months in federal prison for billing for prescription drugs that were never dispensed. According to the Government, the brothers from 1997 to 2012 used a system of secret codes dubbed “TRADE-QUICK” to underfill prescriptions.
Under the “TRADE-QUICK” system, each of the letters in the name corresponded with consecutive numbers, beginning with “T,” standing for the number one, and ending with “K,” standing for zero. According to federal prosecutors, two-letter codes would be entered into pharmacy logs to indicate how a prescription was to be shorted. For example, a 90-pill prescription that only received 60 pills would be tagged “QK,” but the brothers would bill for the larger amount. At other times, the Carluccis would charge insurers and Medicaid for refilling prescriptions without patient knowledge, and bill for brand-name drugs when dispensing generics. According to the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, the Carluccis devised codes to carry out those practices as well.
According to the government, this scheme went beyond overcharging for dispensing medication. For example, on occasions when prescriptions were not profitable, the brothers “looked through a patient’s profile and found additional costs that they could pass on to Medicaid and other insurance companies.” The government further alleged that there were instances where the two pharmacists illegally supplemented their inventory by purchasing unused drugs back from their customers, and by purchasing discounted medicines from unlicensed wholesalers.
The brothers also were each fined $75,000 and ordered to pay $750,000 apiece in restitution. A co-conspirator in the case, Leonard Stefanelli, has pleaded guilty to illegally dispensing narcotic painkiller oxycodone and will be sentenced later this year.
The cases are U.S. v. Carlucci, case number 2:13-cr-00511, U.S. v. Carlucci, case number 2:13-cr-00512, and U.S. v. Stefanelli, case number 2:14-cr-00036, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.