Texas Pharmacist Pleads Guilty to Making $800K+ in Kickbacks

benefit-fraudThe fallout from the Texas health benefit scam continues. On December 14, Brian Haney, part-owner of a Vidor, Texas pharmacy, pleaded guilty in Austin federal court to a two-count information for bribery and tax fraud in connection with his payment of more than $800,000 in kickbacks to Garry Craighead, operator of a chain of physical rehab clinics across the state. The kickbacks were in exchange for referrals by Craighead to participating pharmacies, which inflated prescription prices based on Worker’s Compensation claims. The scam cost the Department of Labor nearly $18 million. The case followed an investigation by the FBI, IRS, U.S. Army, U.S. Postal Service and U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General. A sentencing date has yet to be set.

Brian Haney, now 37, was part-owner of a pharmacy in the southeast Texas community of Vidor. According to prosecutors, he did more than simply run a business. During November 30, 2011-January 2, 2012, he paid Craighead cash bribes totaling $813,560.87 in exchange for patient referrals, many covered by union-sponsored health plans. In turn, Haney’s pharmacy overcharged customers for compound drug prescriptions. In addition, said the feds, Haney filed a false income tax return for 2013. Craighead pleaded guilty in December 2015, and was sentenced this past June. A Houston-based pharmacist, Nermin Awad El-Hadik, pleaded guilty in November to making more than $5 million in kickbacks for the same purpose. Haney’s guilty plea represents another coda to this tale.