By ZEINAB NAJM
Ten residents from Dearborn and Dearborn Heights were indicted in a $46 million alleged drug fraud scheme Dec. 18, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider announced.
According to the news release, Dearborn residents Mohamad Abou-Khodr, 30; Nabil Chehadeh, 39; Ali El-Moussawi, 29; Bassem Farhat, 46; Hussein Wazne, 50; Suzan Berro, 20; and Bahia Zeidan, 28, and Dearborn Heights residents Hussein Abdallah, 36; Daniel Haidar, 30; and Linda Fawaz, 25, were accused of defrauding pharmaceutical companies.
Charges against each member of the group ranged from conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, money laundering, wire fraud — aiding and abetting and mail fraud — aiding and abetting.
From 2014 to November 2019, the group allegedly obtained more than $46 million in fraudulent reimbursement claims when they allegedly submitted reimbursement claims for co-pay programs for drugs that they hadn’t actually bought or given to patients.
The news release said that when a fake pharmacy was under suspicion by an individual processing a claim, the group allegedly closed the pharmacies but then opened new pharmacies at the same address — also known as open-and-close pharmacies.
Claims that were allegedly submitted by the group were for patients who didn’t exist, according to the U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Michigan news release.
“The indictment alleges that the defendants brazenly took advantage of programs created by drug manufacturers to help defray the cost of expensive prescription drugs, all in a scheme to steal millions of dollars,” Schneider said. “At a time when so many Michiganders are struggling to afford their medications, this alleged scheme is especially reprehensible.
“We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to uncover and prosecute prescription drug fraud, so we can ensure these assistance programs remain available to help the people of Michigan.”
In total, the 26 pharmacies in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Ingham counties were impacted in the alleged drug fraud scheme.
According to the news release those pharmacies are: Clinic RX2, later Med Rite Pharmacy and Smart RX Pharmacy in Dearborn Heights; Downriver RX Pharmacy, later First Aid Pharmacy in Lincoln Park; Family Health Pharmacy in Southgate; Safe Pharmacy in Taylor; Wyandotte RX, also known as Royal RX in Wyandotte; Halas Pharmacy and Family Drug Pharmacy V in Redford Township; Pro Med Pharmacy, later Guardian Pharmacy, and Wellmart Pharmacy, later Brite Well RX, in Garden City; Newburgh Pharmacy, Med Health Pharmacy, Ritemed Pharmacy and Wellgreen’s Pharmacy — also known as Danny’s Pharmacy — in Westland; Wayne Pharma in Wayne; Mint Pharmacy, Levan RX, later Nova Pharmacy and Smart Pharmacy in Livonia; Canton RX and Michigan RX Pharmacy in Canton Township; Quest RX, later as Sam Pharmacy RX, in Novi; Crittentonf RX and Metro RX Pharmacy in Sterling Heights; Dalcoma Pharmacy in Clinton Township; Waterford Pharmacy in Waterford Township; and Cedar RX in Lansing.
The Detroit Office of Federal Bureau of Investigation and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services investigated the case with assistance from the Detroit Crime Commission.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])