US Military Robbed by Pharmacist

US Military Robbed by Pharmacist

( – The US Military has contracts all around the country with select pharmacies to provide prescriptions to soldiers, their families, and veterans. In 2022, a pharmacist at one of those locations was convicted of stealing from the Armed Forces. Now, she has been sentenced to prison.

Last year, a jury found 42-year-old Sandy Mai Trang Nguyen guilty of one count of obstructing a federal audit and 21 counts of healthcare fraud. On April 3, US District Judge Otis D. Wright II sentenced her to 180 months in federal prison and ordered her to pay restitution of $11,098,756.

Nguyen worked as a pharmacist in Orange County, California, at the Irvine Wellness Pharmacy (IWP). From 2014 to May 2015, the pharmacist and the employees under her supervision filled about 1,150 tailor-made pain medication prescriptions. Tricare, the military’s medical provider, reimbursed the defunct pharmacy tens of thousands of dollars per prescription.

According to a press release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, the beneficiaries involved provided their Tricare insurance information after being solicited. Prescriptions were written for these patients that they didn’t need or ask for; many of them were never even seen by a doctor. Marketers, who were paid kickbacks of as much as 50%, sent the prescriptions in electronically, and then Nguyen’s pharmacy submitted them for reimbursement through Tricare.

The pharmacy also invoiced the patients. Asking them to collectively pay thousands in co-payments, even though they thought the medication was fully covered. The pharmacy never collected the payments. The press release stated some families received multiple prescriptions for the same medications.

Nguyen was not the only one who was arrested and charged for their involvement in the scheme. Marcus Orlando Armstrong, 56, was sentenced to 9.5 years in prison. Co-defendants Alexander Michael Semenik, 51, and Leslie Andre Ezidore, 53, have pleaded guilty and are waiting for their sentences.

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