Mississippi men sentenced to 7 years in prison, ordered to pay $16.3 million, in TRICARE fraud scheme

Two of the owners of the former Gardens Pharmacy were sentenced to seven years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $16 million in restitution for their roles in the TRICARE fraud scheme.

Bryan Levi, 51, and Jeff Rollins, 44, both of Ocean Springs, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett to 84 months in prison. In addition to the $16.3 million in restitution to TRICARE, Medicare and Express Scripts, the two men have already forfeited some $924,114 in assets to the government.

Both men will also serve three years of post-release supervision.

TRICARE is a health benefit program serving U.S. military personnel, veterans and their families, as well as private health care programs.

Rollins and Levi had admitted to their guilt in conspiring to commit health care fraud. During their plea hearings, they acknowledged operating The Gardens Pharmacy in Ocean Springs, a retail pharmacy specializing in compound medicines.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Rollins and Levi “solicited recruiters to obtain prescriptions for high-adjudicating compounded medications that were often ordered with numerous refills. The recruiters were paid a percentage of the reimbursements that health care benefit programs paid to the pharmacy, including for Medicare and TRICARE beneficiaries, even though it is unlawful to pay commissions to distributors on referrals to federal programs.

Levi and Rollins participated in formulating compound medications intended to receive the maximum reimbursements available, whether the medications were necessary for the customer or not.

The also admitted to soliciting and paying doctors to authorize prescriptions for expensive compound medications.

The Gardens operated in the Ritchey Building at 1019 Government St., owned by local businessman Ken Ritchey, who himself was indicted in January on federal charges he orchestrated a $1.8 million price gouging scheme related to personal protective equipment through his Gulf Coast Pharmaceuticals business, also located in Ocean Springs.

The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathlyn Van Buskirk and trial attorneys Dustin Davis and Sara Porter from the U.S. Department of Justice.

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