An Ellabell man arrested in July was among more than 60 people charged as a result of what the U.S. Justice Department said was “a significant health care fraud enforcement operation across Florida and Georgia,” according to a press release sent out to area media Thursday.
The man, Tucker Chambers, 21, is one of five people in the Southern District of Georgia who are charged with conspiracy relating to the distribution of oxycodone, Adderall, alprazolam and clonazepam after they were indicted by a federal grand jury in Savannah, according to a press release issued Thursday.
The others are: Jenna Savage, 26, of Port Wentworth; Norman Lee Burnsed, 27, of Port Wentworth; Macaila Brown, 22, of Rincon; and Cameron Hilliard, 26 of Savannah.
Savage, Burnsed, Brown, along with Chambers, were arrested in July by the Chatham Counter Narcotics Team following an investigation into Chambers, who reportedly worked for a doctor’s office and was suspected of illegally prescribing medications.
One pharmacist, David L. Williford, 59, of Rincon, was charged with one count of acquiring a controlled substance, oxycodone, by misrepresentation, fraud, or forgery.
In addition, Darien Pharmacy and Janice Ann Colter, 62, of Darien, a pharmacist, were named in a federal civil complaint accusing Darien Pharmacy and Colter “of filling prescriptions for controlled substances they either knew or should have known were not issued for legitimate medical reasons, and by a provider not acting with the regular course of professional practice,” the release continued.
“The drug dealer stereotype involves violent gang members peddling poison in our streets, but often the illicit dealers wear white coats and work in medical offices,” said U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine for the Southern District of Georgia. “People who violate medical oaths and ethical codes to turn illegal profits by fueling the opioid crisis will find prosecutors and investigators working tirelessly to swap their lab coats for prison uniforms.”
In all, 67 people across four federal districts in the two states face charges for their alleged involvement in schemes to defraud Medicare and Medicaid, the press release said. None have been convicted or entered pleas.
The schemes allegedly resulted in more than $160 million in fraudulent billings.
“FBI Atlanta and its Savannah Resident Agency are proud to have participated in this nationwide effort to help protect the much needed federal funds that Medicare provides,” said Special Agent in Charge Chris Hacker of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office. “When providers are driven by greed and abuse the Medicare program, every tax paying citizen is a victim, especially those who use the federal funds for their health care needs. Improper billing inflates costs and the FBI and its law enforcement partners are determined to hold those who do it accountable.”
More from the press release: “Today’s enforcement actions were led and coordinated by the Health Care Fraud Unit of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section in conjunction with its Medicare Fraud Strike Force partners, a partnership among the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Offices, the FBI and U.S. Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General. In addition, the operation includes the participation of various other federal law enforcement agencies and state MFCUs. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Center for Program Integrity also announced today that all appropriate administrative actions would be taken based on these charges.”