MacDill airman pleads guilty to paying TRICARE kickbacks

  • Published
  • By Public Affairs
  • U.S. Department of Justice

Acting United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow announced March 30 that Nikkos Hamlett, 29, of Brandon, Fla., pled guilty to conspiracy to pay kickbacks in connection with a federal health care benefit program. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

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

According to the plea agreement, Hamlett was an active duty Airman with the 6th Medical Support Squadron stationed at MacDill Air Force Base here. Beginning in September 2014, he became a sales representative for Centurion Compounding Inc., a marketing firm located in Wesley Chapel. Centurion utilized sales representatives as independent contractors to market compounded medications, specifically creams for pain and scars, to health care benefit program beneficiaries.

Centurion focused its promotional efforts on TRICARE beneficiaries based upon an understanding and belief that TRICARE would pay claims for these compounded creams.

Hamlett was initially recruited into the Centurion scheme by other active-duty military members to be a patient and to obtain compounded creams marketed by Centurion. Between September 2014 and January 2015, Hamlett caused TRICARE to pay $84,487.43 in claims for his prescriptions for pain cream and scar cream.

Hamlett agreed and conspired with other members of his Centurion sales marketing group, self-labeled “team cream,” to give and offer to give TRICARE beneficiaries incentives, such as cash, meals, entertainment, and travel expenses, to visit a doctor and obtain prescriptions for Centurion-marketed compounded creams for which Hamlett and other “team cream” members would receive commissions.

Between September 2014 and February 2015, Hamlett caused TRICARE to be billed approximately $640,577 for these creams, from which Centurion and Hamlett received commissions. Hamlett received commissions from Centurion totaling approximately $30,000 and, at the time Centurion shut down in February 2015, he was owed an additional $66,000 in commissions.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mandy Riedel and Megan Kistler.

(Editor’s Note: AFOSI Special Agent Will Glidewell, now at Det. 331, was the lead OSI Agent working with the joint task force on this investigation.)