Saturday, February 23, 2008 MORE FRAUD I MIGHT HAVE MISSED

Star Prosecution Witness Testifies In National Century Fraud Case
February 22, 2008 in Health Fraud, Securities Fraud by Dave Westheimer | No comments

In the third week of the healthcare finance fraud trial of five former executives of National Century Financial Enterprises (earlier), the prosecution’s star witness testified on Thursday that the deception by management began years before the company collapsed in 2002, resulting in a $1.9 billion loss to investors. Sherry Gibson, National Century’s former Executive VP for compliance, testified that the complex scheme to falsify records and lie to investors and auditors dated back to 1995 and involved all the firm’s principals and senior executives. Gibson pleaded guilty in 2003 to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors; she was sentenced to 48 months in prison in June 2004. The trial continues before US District Judge Algenon Marbley in Columbus, Ohio. Bizjournals story here.

New Jersey Brothers Sentenced In Medicaid Fraud
February 11, 2008 in Health Fraud by Dave Westheimer | No comments

Two brothers from the Vineland, New Jersey area were sentenced to prison on Friday by US District Judge Freda Wolfson in Trenton for submitting $5.5 million in false claims to Medicaid for medical services never rendered at their two adult day care centers. Ernest Galletta, vice president of Horizon National Healthcare LLC, was sentenced to 55 months in prison. His brother George Galletta, the owner of Horizon, was sentenced to six months in prison and six months home confinement; he received a lesser sentence because his brother had hidden the fraud from him for more than two years. They had each pleaded guilty on November 2, 2007 to single count informations of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud. AP here, DOJ Press Release (.pdf) here.

National Century Health Finance Fraud Trial Opens Today
February 4, 2008 in Health Fraud, Securities Fraud by Dave Westheimer | No comments

The trial of five former executives of National Century Financial Enterprises is scheduled to begin today in Columbus, Ohio before US District Judge Algenon Marbley. Co-founders Rebecca Parrett and Donald Ayers and former executives Randolph Speer, Roger Faulkenberry and James Dierker face multiple charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering. The privately held National Century was once the largest source of health care provider financing in the US. It collapsed six years ago and investors, including institutions and government bodies, lost $1.9 billion in what prosecutors allege was a massive and complex fraud scheme. Four former employees who have pleaded guilty are expected to testify. Former CEO and co-founder Lance Poulsen is scheduled for trial on August 4, 2008 but he first faces a March 7 trial for witness tampering. The Columbus Dispatch story is here; AP here.

Vanmoor Convicted In Fake Cancer Cure Case
January 25, 2008 in Health Fraud by Dave Westheimer | No comments

Arthur Vanmoor: Mensa member, inventor and patent holder; notorious “Big Pimpin’ Pappy” of the escort service business in Broward County, Florida until he was convicted on state racketeering and prostitution charges (2004 story here). Now Vanmoor has been convicted by jury trial on 19 federal counts including mail fraud, wire fraud, Food Drug & Cosmetic Act violations and conspiracy; the March 2005 indictments arose from his operation of websites offering fake cures for cancer, migraine, flu and other diseases or conditions. Vanmoor’s websites falsely claimed to be selling FDA approved drugs and contained fake articles written by fake doctors; evidence at the trial showed that Vanmoor continued to operate the websites in violation of a December 2005 restraining order. Sentencing has not been scheduled; the DOJ Press Release is here.

Attorney Sentenced To 78 Months In Fen-Phen Fraud
January 22, 2008 in Health Fraud by Dave Westheimer | No comments

Attorney Robert Arledge of Vicksburg, Mississippi on Thursday was sentenced to 78 months in prison and ordered to pay $5.8 million in restitution by US District Judge David Bramlette in Jackson. Arledge was convicted by jury trial in October on 7 counts including conspiracy, wire fraud and mail fraud in a scheme to defraud Wyeth Pharmaceutical by knowingly allowing clients to submit false Fen-Phen claims for $250,000 each to a settlement fund. More than 20 claimants were charged in the scheme; most have been sentenced. WAPT has the AP story here.

Vytorin: Two Sources of Fraud?
January 16, 2008 in Health Fraud, Insider Trading by Dave Westheimer | No comments

Merck/Schering-Plough’s Vytorin is a combination of Merck’s Zocor and Schering’s Zetia. Zocor’s patent has expired and Zetia has never been proven effective in improving clinical outcomes. The pharmaceutical joint venture company has been under fire for repeatedly refusing to release the results of clinical trials which examined the effectiveness of Vytorin over Zocor alone. The trials ended in early 2006 . After announced delays in November 2006 and April 2007, the company issued a press release in November 2007 (here) in which it attempted to change the endpoints of the study. After a storm of protest, the company released the results Monday (here): Vytorin is no more effective than Zocor alone. A Bloomberg story here has further details, including calls by two Congressmen for further investigation of the ad campaign for Vytorin. Sandy Szwarc at Junkfood Science has analyzed the developing story here and previously here.

Now it has been reported (Brandweek NRx via Junkfood Science) that Schering President Carrie Smith Cox sold 900,000 shares of company stock worth $28 million last spring, after the clinical trials ended but long before the results were released.

Whatever comes next, we can only hope for the demise of the obnoxious and misleading Vytorin commercials.

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