A pharmacist in New York’s Chinatown was recently arrested by local police for allegedly stealing $15 millions of dollars from Medicaid.
On Thursday, the pharmacist, identified as Hin Wong, faced grand-larceny and other charges in Manhattan Criminal Court, where she pleaded not guilty. She is now being held on $500,000 bail.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office revealed that Wong was operating three pharmacies which reportedly paid kickbacks to patients to fill their HIV/AIDS prescriptions. Between July 2014 and August 2017, Wong reportedly auto-filled the prescriptions and billed Medicaid for them, although she never actually provided the pills to the patients. During the period, the pharmacies were found to have billed Medicaid and other insurers $15 million but failed to buy enough medication to support it. Based on a financial audit, only some $9 million was actually paid for drugs. Medicaid’s reimbursement rate for the medications is currently $2,000 a month, the New York Post noted.
Seeking $11 million-plus in damages, the Schneiderman’s office also filed a civil asset-forfeiture action against Wong.
The civil suit claims that there was a “substantial inventory shortfall, amounting to more than $6 million”.
Wong was also found to have “made numerous lavish personal purchases of goods and services.”
According to the authorities, 49-year-old Manhattan resident Hin Wong blew all the money on travel, designer furniture, plastic surgery, and shopping sprees at luxury stores.
Based on her credit card records, Wong spent at least $80,000 on designer goods from Prada, Miu Miu, and Louis Vuitton, New York Daily News reported. Court documents also revealed that she spent another $1,000 on a plastic surgeon in June.
Wong was busted for her wrongdoings after undercover agents posed as patients. They were given cash kickbacks after filling their prescriptions at NY Pharmacy at 131 Walker St. in Chinatown and at two other branches. The stores have since been closed.