Marketing firm indicted for healthcare kickbacks, money laundering

The U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida is prosecuting the conspiracy to pay kickbacks case in connection with TRICARE, involving co-owners of Lifecare Pharmacy in Pinellas County, Fla. (U.S. Dept. of Justice graphic)

The U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida is prosecuting the conspiracy to pay kickbacks case in connection with TRICARE, involving co-owners of Lifecare Pharmacy in Pinellas County, Fla. (U.S. Dept. of Justice graphic)

Tampa, Fla. --

An indictment has been unsealed charging Frank V. Monte, 38, of Valrico, Fla., and Kimberley S. Anderson 50, from New Port Richey, Fla., with one count of conspiracy, five counts of paying healthcare kickbacks, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and three counts of illegal monetary transactions. Monte is also charged with two counts of making false statements.

If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison for the conspiracy count, up to 5 years’ imprisonment for each count of paying a kickback, and up to 10 years in federal prison for each money laundering and monetary transaction charge. Monte faces up to 5 years’ imprisonment on each false statement charge. The indictment also notifies Monte and Anderson that the United States intends to forfeit cash, vehicles, and real estate, all of which are alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the offenses.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

While many members from OSI Detachment 340, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., participated in the investigation, OSI involvement on the fraud task force was led by Special Agent Will Glidewell, now assigned to Det. 331, Joint Base Andrews, Md.  

According to the indictment, in May 2014, Monte and Anderson, acting on behalf of their marketing company Centurion Compounding, Inc., entered into a marketing agreement with the owners of a Pinellas County-based pharmacy called Lifecare. Centurion employed sales representatives to market compounded medications, specifically creams for pain and scars, among others, to beneficiaries of healthcare plans, especially TRICARE. These creams typically ranged from $900 to $21,000 for a one-month supply. Between May and November 2014, Monte and Anderson directed the patients that Centurion sales representatives had recruited the physicians in their network to send all of their compounded cream prescriptions to Centurion, which then transmitted them to Lifecare to fill. 

During this same period, the owners of Lifecare, Carlos Mazariegos and Benjamin Nundy, entered into an agreement with the principals of Centurion to pay illegal kickbacks to Dr. Anthony Baldizzi, a Centurion in-network physician. Lifecare and Centurion agreed to pay Dr. Baldizzi 10 percent of each paid claim resulting from a prescription for compounded cream written for his patients and filled at Lifecare. These prescriptions were often billed to TRICARE.  

Lifecare received approximately $5.3 million from TRICARE for claims made for prescriptions for compounded medications prescribed by Dr. Baldizzi as a result of this illegal kickback scheme. In December 2014, Mazariegos wrote a check for $71,900, funded with the proceeds from the scheme, to pay for a luxury car for Dr. Baldizzi in partial satisfaction of kickbacks owed to him by Lifecare and Centurion.

Dr. Baldizzi previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and receiving healthcare kickbacks. Mazariegos and Nundy previoulsy pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. They are currently awaiting sentencing.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mandy Riedel.