One of the last men to plead guilty in a massive fraud involving high-priced pain creams and other medications was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison — the maximum sentence possible.
Mitchell “Chad” Barrett, 55, formerly of Clinton, pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy to commit money laundering in a $182.5 million health care fraud, from which he personally profited more than $25 million.
Barrett was ordered by U.S. Senior Judge Keith Starrett to repay the fraudulently obtained money, including more than $25 million outlined in a forfeiture order.
The hearing took place at William M. Colmer Federal Courthouse in Hattiesburg.
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Who else was involved in the scheme?
Barrett, who now lives in Gulf Breeze, Florida, is one of the scheme’s “central architects” who defrauded TRICARE and other health care benefits providers and created more than $1.5 billion in fraud nationwide, along with Wade Walters, Hope Thomley and Tommy Spell, all of whom are serving prison sentences after pleading guilty to their crimes.
According to a 21-count indictment, Barrett and his direct co-conspirators, Tommy Shoemaker and David “Jason” Rutland, conspired to and engaged in a scheme to defraud numerous health care benefit programs, using several pharmacies, including several in the Jackson metro area, between September 2011 and January 2016.
Shoemaker and Rutland are serving their sentences in federal prisons in Louisiana and Illinois.
Around 20 others pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial for the fraud. One was acquitted and one still faces retrial on a charge for which the trial jury could not reach a unanimous verdict.
Dr. Gregory Auzenne of Meridian was indicted on eight charges. He was acquitted of seven charges. He is expected to be retried on the eighth charge later this year.
NEW His secretary Tiffany Clark was acquitted of all five charges for which she was indicted.
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What did the fraud entail?
The fraud involved a scheme to maximize profit on the compounded pain creams and other medications by creating ones with the highest reimbursement value instead of tailoring them to individual patients. In some cases, the prescribing doctor never examined the patient. In most cases, the medications were not medically necessary.
The prescriptions, some of which contained controlled substances, were photocopied or pre-signed on preprinted prescription pads. Many of the prescriptions were sent to patients by automatic renewal.
The pain and creams and vitamin and weight-loss pills were billed to TRICARE and other health care benefit providers, which reimbursed participating pharmacies for the medications, which cost around $11,000-$14,000 per prescription.
Marketers solicited pharmacists and medical professionals to prescribe the medications to patients in exchange for kickbacks and bribes. Some even signed up family members, employees and friends to receive the medications even though they had no need for them.
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