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October 6, 2011

VIDEO: Fraud nets 4-year term for former pharmacist

John Love had defrauded Medicaid of $3.5 million

TERRE HAUTE — A former Terre Haute pharmacist has been sentenced to more than four years in federal prison for his role in an Indiana Medicaid fraud scheme.

John David Love, 54, of Brazil already had pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud and money laundering for filing false claims for prescriptions that were never given to patients. On Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Terre Haute, Love told Judge William Lawrence that he wants to make restitution for the $3.5 million he used to purchase property, vehicles and personal items.

Love, a pharmacist and controlling member of the Terre Haute Prescription Shop, admitted to defrauding the government for almost five years, stopping only after state and federal investigators seized records at the pharmacy on South Seventh Street in September 2010.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Shepard said Love was helpful with the investigation, but he noted that Love’s scheme is the largest criminal healthcare fraud case in the Southern District of Indiana.

Considering the scope of the scheme, the amount of loss and the number of false claims, Shepard told Lawrence that a 51-month sentence was justified.

Defense attorney Joseph Etling pointed out that Love has lost his reputation, his standing in the community, his home and all assets, including bank funds and his retirement savings. Love also assisted in the sale of his own property and forfeited the proceeds to the U.S. Marshal’s Service.

“His desire is to make some attempts at restitution,” Etling said, requesting a brief incarceration for Love.

Investigators stated that Love used his access and knowledge of the business’s computer system to input false prescriptions into the billing system, which would then bill the Indiana Medicaid Program for the fraudulent claim. As soon as the computer system submitted the claim for the prescription to the Indiana Medicaid Program, Love would access the computer system again and void the prescription before any other pharmacy employee could notice a record for a prescription that was never filled or dispensed.

As a result of the fraud, the Indiana Medicaid Program paid the pharmacy $3,575,699.73 for prescriptions that were never provided to patients. Those funds were deposited into the pharmacy’s main business account. Love used at least $3 million of the fraudulent proceeds to purchase four parcels of real estate; 15 vehicles including five Harley-Davidson motorcycles, a Chevrolet Corvette and a Cadillac Escalade; a destination wedding for one of his children to Florida; and numerous other personal expenses. The money-laundering convictions concern the purchase of one Harley-Davidson motorcycle and the destination wedding.

Appearing in federal court with Etling, Love made a brief statement and told the judge that he wants to make restitution. He said he also regretted the harm he caused to his family.

“I’ve lost my marriage, my license, my home and my business,” Love said. “I’m sorry for what I’ve put them through.”

Love also told the court: “I want to apologize to the court and to the community for what I’ve done. There’s no excuse for what I’ve done.”

Etling pointed out that Love assisted federal authorities in the investigation, showing agents the manner in which his conduct was undertaken and accepting responsibility for his own actions.

“It was a situation that, unfortunately, snowballed,” Etling said of Love’s fraudulent actions. “It became too easy.”

 The judge said he would recommend to the Bureau of Prisons that Love be incarcerated in a nearby federal facility. He also ordered that Love repay $2,277.363.16 to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and $1,298,336.57 to the Indiana Medicaid program. Love also will be placed on three years of supervised release after his 51-month sentence.

 Also as part of his sentence, Love forfeited the Harley Davidson motorcycles, two sports cars (a Corvette and a Mustang), four sport-utility vehicles, two pickup trucks, one four-wheeler RV and trailer and money from multiple bank accounts. The government estimates that the total value of the forfeited assets is about $666,307.06, minus costs of maintenance and liquidation.

 The criminal investigation was handled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s Medicaid Fraud Enforcement Unit.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com.

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