BIRMINGHAM, AL - Today in United States District Court Haleyville Pharmacist, GERALD MAX BURLESON was sentenced to 18 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge L. Scott Coogler. BURLESON, 63, of Haleyville, was charged in a Criminal information in January 2006. He plead guilty to Healthcare Fraud and Drug Misbranding in March 2006.
“Every Medicare dollar taken illegally is a dollar no longer available to cover a senior citizen’s healthcare cost,” states U.S. Attorney Alice H. Martin. “Greed is a powerful motive. I hope going to prison is a powerful deterent to others.”
BURLESON is also fined $40,000 and ordered to pay restitution to Medicare in the amount of $395,000. He was ordered to begin serving his sentence in federal prison starting August 3, 2006. Upon completion of the prison term, BURLESON will serve 2 years on supervised release.
The sentencing today is the result of an investigation into a scheme devised by BURLESON to defraud Medicare and misbranded drugs. BURLESON billed and was reimbursed by Medicare for the misbranded drugs. BURLESON defrauded Medicare in connection with drugs dispensed to Medicare patients by City Pharmacy of Haleyville. BURLESON operated the pharmacy. BURLESON received prescriptions from physicians for medications in commercially available strengths. Instead of dispensing the medications as ordered by the physicians, BURLESON dispensed medication that he “compounded” from ingredients he had acquired, without the physicians’ knowledge. The compounded medication was placed into vials which were then dispensed to patients from an unlicensed location. BURLESON filed claims with Medicare and received reimbursement for the medications he dispensed.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. Assistant United States Attorney Herbert H. Henry prosecuted this matter on behalf of the U.S. Government.
“Medicare spending topped $ 300 billion in 2004, so fraud of the system is taken very seriously,” adds U.S. Attorney Martin. “Citizens area encouraged to report Medicare fraud by telephoning toll free 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).”