Pills

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A Baldwin County area doctor was indicted on Tuesday in a long-running investigation into a prescription drug-billing scheme involving a Haleyville, Ala.-based pharmacy, Northside Pharmacy doing business as Global Compounding Pharmacy.

An 11-count indictment charges Dr. Michelle Martine Jackson, 53, of Fairhope with a conspiracy to receive kickbacks, a conspiracy to commit health care fraud and mail fraud, health care fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

According to the indictment, Jackson, who worked out of two clinics in Mobile, received kickbacks in exchange for issuing medically unnecessary compounded drug and other prescriptions to be filled by Global Compounding Pharmacy.

According to officials, Jackson issued medically unnecessary prescriptions to a Global employee Bonita Amonett, and her family and friends, to individuals with whom Jackson did not have a doctor-patient relationship, and to individuals with whom she had a doctor-patient relationship, but who did not need the drugs in question.

They say Amonett paid the kickbacks in the form of cash and free offices services to Jackson and a nurse practitioner, Brandy Lunsford.

According to court documents, both Amonett and Lunsford previously entered guilty pleas to paying and receiving kickbacks and health care fraud.

Jackson’s indictment brings the total number of individuals who have been charged in this long-running investigation to 30, 24 of whom have previously entered guilty pleas, officials said.

Those who have previously pled guilty include two nurse practitioners and various Global employees, including its CEO, COO, a vice president of sales, an operations manager, a district manager, and multiple sales representatives.

The maximum punishment for the 18 U.S.C. § 371 kickback conspiracy is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum punishment for the 18 U.S.C. § 1349 health care and mail fraud conspiracy charge is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The maximum penalty for health care fraud is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The minimum and maximum penalty for the 18 U.S.C. § 1028A aggravated identity theft charge is two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr., U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson, Defense Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent in Charge Cynthia Bruce, United States Postal Inspector in Charge, Houston Division Adrian Gonzalez, and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge Andrew Thornton announced the charges.

The FBI, HHS-OIG, DCIS, USPIS, IRS-CI, and a United States Attorney’s Office investigator investigated the cases, which Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chinelo Dike-Minor, Don Long, and Edward Canter are prosecuting. The Veteran Affairs Office of Inspector General Criminal Investigations Division provided assistance in the investigation.

An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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