Nebraska pharmacist pleads guilty to Medicaid-claims fraud

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A Lincoln pharmacist pleaded guilty on Tuesday to health care fraud, admitting he cheated Nebraska's Medicaid program out of $14.4 million.

Federal prosecutors said Scott Tran, owner of Tran Pharmacy, submitted hundreds of claims for TOBI, a tobramycin solution used in inhalers for cystic fibrosis patients, in the names of his customers' children.

In one instance in 2009, Tran submitted claims for TOBI prescriptions for three siblings three days after their mother filled her own prescription at Tran Pharmacy.

Tran will face eight to 10 years in federal prison when he's sentenced in January, if the judge agrees to the deal submitted by attorneys.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Everett said he would dismiss 17 other counts against Tran in exchange for his guilty plea to one count of health care fraud. Tran agreed to a restitution amount of $14.4 million and to forfeit his right to cash and property seized early in the investigation.

Defense attorney Clarence Mock said Tran spent most of the money from the false claims gambling at casinos in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

"All of Mr. Tran's conduct stems from an inveterate gambling addiction that he just couldn't control," Mock said.

Mock said Tran also will face tax issues, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Zwart said Tran also will likely be barred from working as a pharmacist ever again.
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