LOS ANGELES (AP) — Federal authorities raided Los Angeles-area pharmacies Thursday, arresting 16 people in an alleged $18 million scheme to defraud Medicare that included the recruitment of veterans, homeless people, the poor and elderly.

A federal criminal complaint contends a doctor at Manor Medical Imaging Clinic of Glendale wrote prescriptions for anti-psychotic drugs.

The drugs, which included Abilify, Seroquel and Zyprexa, were billed to Medicare and Medi-Cal but didn’t go to those recruited for the scheme. Instead, the drugs were allegedly sent to black market wholesalers and then funneled to several San Gabriel Valley pharmacies, where they were repackaged so they could be re-dispensed.

Some Medicare beneficiaries had their identities stolen for use in the scheme. As a result, some people were later denied coverage for drugs they needed, authorities said.

The main pharmacy named in the complaint — Huntington Pharmacy in San Marino — had fewer than $45,000 in Medi-Cal claims in 2009 but nearly $1.5 million last year, and most were prescriptions from the Manor’s doctor, according to the criminal complaint.

Overall, more than $18 million in bills were submitted to federal authorities and about $7.3 million was paid out, authorities said.

More than 200 federal, state and San Marino law enforcement agents served search warrants in Thursday’s raids, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.

Those charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud could face up to 30 years in federal prison if convicted. They include the Manor doctor and the owners of the Huntington Pharmacy.

A message left at Manor seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned. A call to Huntington Pharmacy went unanswered.

“Prescription harvesting” schemes involving anti-psychotic drugs are on the increase, authorities said. Anti-psychotic prescriptions can be lucrative because the government will reimburse pharmacies up to $2,800 for a single bottle of pills.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (8)
  1. John Pelligrini says:

    why do people ask for comments if you won’t print them?

  2. Eddy L. Smith says:

    darn, i was hoping this article was about how the raping of social security by politicians and how they have borrowed aprox 6 trillion from social security and havent paid back a penny , although now many of these politicians are telling everyone that it cant be self sufficiant while they still owe 6 trillion + to social security..

  3. transitionalmetals says:

    Huntington pharmacy owner is a great and honest person. The owner would never cheat any patient for this fraudulent crime. After the investigation is done, he will be exonerated.

  4. Amy Kazaryan says:

    Simply unethical, especially when the targeted victims are the elderly who live off of Medicare and Medi-Cal and do not understand the severity of these scams.

  5. Anna says:

    F in Sholom you need to really shut up. Do you not see that the owner of the pharmacy is Asian? Doctor Johnson is most probably African American? Or your just burning that us Armenians have better families then a trash like yourself? Hello stupid the pharmacist billed for 1.8 million in 2010. The ASIAN pharmacist.

  6. J.T. says:

    you hit it on the head sholmo. its always armenians or aisian FOB that commit these crimes that rape our resources and scam billions from our social services. its time to close the boarders from everyone not just latinos.

  7. Dude says:

    J.T. from 10/28/11 posting: You’re such an idiot. You think everyone that came from overseas are the ones bringing down the US. Is Madoff from Asia or Armenia? Are the white collar criminals that brought down Tyco & Enron all from Asia? No! They were born & bred here in the US. So before you let your mouth run ahead of your brain ( or lack thereof )

    Look at which ethnic group contributes most to the US economy the most and which ones drain it the most. Who is abusing the food stamp privileges? Who always applies for gov’t support? Who lives free, feed their babies on our tax dollars. If you actually “live” in the US and looked around, you would know the answer.

  8. Izabella says:

    “DUDE” well put at least someone here has a good head on their shoulder. People love to just run their mouths without actually knowing what is really going on. Get your facts straight then leave comments. THANK YOU

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