Earlier this week, a woman from Hattiesburg, Mississippi pleaded guilty to her involvement in a $200 million scheme to defraud health care benefit programs. The woman defrauded TRICARE, which covers United States military service members and their families. 52-year-old Hope E. Thomley pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and tax evasion.
Thomley is now scheduled to be sentenced on July 2, 2019. She was charged in May 2018 and her trial was scheduled to begin on March 19. In accordance with the guilty plea, Thomley admitted to her involvement in a scheme to defraud health care benefit programs by marketing compound medications. These medications are specially combined or formulated to meet the needs of individual patients.
Thomley owned and operated the marketing agency for Advantage Pharmacy of Hattiesburg. In that position, she was responsible for acquiring prescriptions for which the pharmacy could obtain reimbursement from health care benefit programs. The marketing company received nearly 50% of the reimbursements that Advantage Pharmacy obtained from compounded medications.
Thomley admitted that co-conspirators formulated the compounded medications without worrying about the individual needs of the patients. Instead, the goal was to increase reimbursements paid by health care benefit programs. Thomley admitted to having contemporaneous knowledge of this. She also admitted to obtaining prescribers’ signatures on blank prescription forms and filling out the forms with the names of her children and TRICARE beneficiaries recruited from the community to receive these medications.
She admitted that she knew Advantage Pharmacy would fill and submit the claims for the falsified prescriptions. Thomley also admitted to her involvement in a money laundering and tax evasion scheme that she and other co-conspirators used to hide the proceeds and avoid taxes. She ultimately evaded paying roughly $6.6 million in income taxes. The government seized more than $15 million in cash and assets from Thomley. In accordance with the guilty plea, the cash and other assets will be forfeited. Since 2017, nine others involved in the scheme have pleaded guilty. One was convicted at trial.
Additional details can be found here.