A 39-year-old St Augustine businessman pled guilty today in an agreement with federal prosecutors to charges that he violated the “anti-kickback” statute. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.
Acting United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow informed local Historic City News reporters that Vernon Stroman, Jr. was working as a marketer and consultant for Wellness Pharmacy in St. Augustine. In this role, he was responsible for finding patients with TRICARE insurance that could be referred to the pharmacy.
“Stroman referred his patients to Wellness Pharmacy and provided them with prescriptions for several creams – including a post-op scar cream and a general pain and inflammation cream,” Muldrow said. “The patients did not receive a physician order attesting to the medical necessity of the creams. However, Stroman knew that the pharmacy intended to fill the prescriptions and submit claims to TRICARE for reimbursement.”
According to records obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, approximately one week after Stroman submitted the prescriptions to the pharmacy, he picked up the creams and supposedly paid the $102.00 in co-payments.
Assistant United States Attorney Jason Mehta told local reporters that Stroman later admitted that he never paid these co-payments; instead, he received $3,000.00 for “consulting services” from the pharmacy — in total, from February to May 2015, Stroman received $50,461.75.
Wellness Pharmacy submitted 18 claims for reimbursement because of Stroman’s actions. TRICARE paid Wellness Pharmacy a total of $178,193.40 for these fraudulent prescription claims.