As explained by Michigan’s Grand Law Attorneys, kickbacks are illegal payments that are received in exchange for some time of preferential treatment or an unlawful service. Essentially, a kickback is a form of bribery. Both the payer and the receiver of the money can be charged with a crime.
“Kickbacks are illegal because they affect the ability of employees of both private companies and government entities to make unbiased decisions in the best interests of their clients and the marketplace as a whole,” details Grand Law’s website, “If you are facing an investigation or a criminal charge of participating in kickbacks, it’s crucial to take the matter seriously, ensure that your legal rights are protected and be prepared to respond effectively to the allegations.”
Sadly, the medical industry has seen its fair share of kickback schemes.
This week, another doctor admitted to taking part in one. As reported by the Northern District of Oklahoma branch of the United States Department of Justice, Jerry May Keepers pleaded guilty to accepting illegal kickback payments.
The 68 year-old, Texas-based physician ran a pain clinic practice in the cities of Friendswood, Beaumont and Humble, Texas. He also established a clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma in November of 2012. On Wednesday of this week, however, he admitted to writing and referring compounded drug prescriptions in return for kickback payments.
Keepers violated the federal anti-kickback statute.
According to the DoJ report, Keepers entered a plea agreement. He will serve 36 months of supervised probation and pay no more than $1,518,180.46 in restitution if it is accepted. He will be sentenced on May 10, 2022. In the agreement, Keepers revealed that he worked in tandem with fellow defendants, Christopher Parks and Dr. Gary Lee. The pair controlled the pharmacy, OK Compounding.
Keepers admitted that OK Compounding solicited him to write prescriptions for his patients that would be filled by the pharmacy. In particular, on January 22, 2014, he knowingly received $25,000 from representatives of OK Compounding. The purpose of this payment was to coerce Keepers to refer prescriptions for expensive compounded drugs to the pharmacy.
“The compounded medications were filled, and claims were filed by the pharmacy,” the DoJ details, “Those medications were in turn paid for by federal healthcare programs, including TRICARE, Medicare, CHAMPVA, and the Federal Employees Compensation Act Program.”
The DoJ report points out that the kickback payments Keepers received were disguised through various sham business arrangements. They included contracts where several physicians purported to serve as “medical directors” or “consulting physicians” for the pharmacy. “Keepers and OK Compounding represented that Keepers had been paid for his services as a national spokesperson, medical director or national marketing director,” reveals the DoJ.
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