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Originally published April 11 2014

Pharmacists caught paying AIDS patients to skip their meds

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) A pharmacy in New York's Bronx borough was shut down by state anti-fraud officers recently after it was discovered that the pharmacists working there had paid off poor AIDS patients to not take their medicines. The trio, which also owned the pharmacy, allegedly billed the federal government for expensive pharmaceuticals that were never actually purchased, offering their desperate AIDS patients some of the loot while keeping the rest for themselves. reports that Mohamed Hasan Ahmed, Ahmed Hamed and Tarek Elsayed, the three owners of the 184th Street Pharmacy in the Bronx's University Heights neighborhood, were taken into custody following an investigation by the New York Attorney General's Office. Officials apparently caught wind of the scam, which involved illegally billing Medicaid for millions of dollars' worth of treatments that were never given to patients.

"The prescriber allegedly paid patients cash for their medications, kept the Medicaid payments for the pills, then resold them to other sick patients," writes Denis Slattery for the New York Daily News. "The trio submitted claims for thousands of dollars in reimbursements to Medicaid and Medicaid managed care organizations for medications they did not dispense between March 1, 2013 [sic] and the present."

Medicaid billed millions for phony prescriptions

According to their accusers, the three pharmacists defrauded the state and federal Medicaid programs by falsely billing for medicine and laundering the money back into their own private accounts via 10 different "shell" corporations. Among the spoils purchased with the stolen cash were a Maserati, a Mercedes-Benz and several BMWs and Acuras, according to reports.

"These defendants abused the fundamental trust between health care providers and patients by putting their own greed above the health needs of the patients," said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a statement. "This blatant theft and abuse of one of our state's most important health care programs is reprehensible and will not be tolerated."

In sum, the three pharmacists are said to have stolen over $9.8 million from the system as part of the scheme, and are now being charged with felony grand larceny, scheming to defraud the government and money laundering. It is also unclear at this point which medications were being used to perpetrate this massive fraud, and for how long it took place.

Law says patients who sold their meds should also be prosecuted

Meanwhile, many are wondering whether or not those patients who were also complicit will be held liable for their crimes. Selling prescription drugs to others for whom they were not prescribed is illegal and can result in prison time and a felony record.

"This is beyond understanding, because this is where we come to get our medications," stated 53-year-old Nadine Lavan, an HIV patient, to New York Post reporters outside the pharmacy following the arrests. "I trusted these people. It's very upsetting to me. ... Why would you sell your medication unless you have a death wish?"

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