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New York AG announces conviction of owner of three Manhattan pharmacies for defrauding Medicaid

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Staff Writer | February 27, 2019
Pharmacy
America   New York Pharmacy, NYC Pharmacy, and NY Healthfirst Pharmacy

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the guilty pleas of licensed pharmacist Hin T. Wong of Manhattan, and her companies New York Pharmacy, NYC Pharmacy, and NY Healthfirst Pharmacy in connection with a multi-million dollar Medicaid fraud scheme involving HIV drugs.

“This Defendant, a licensed pharmacist, exploited some of our state’s most vulnerable patients to steal millions of dollars reserved to provide New Yorkers with essential healthcare,” said Attorney General Letitia James.

“My office will continue to hold accountable health care professionals who forsake their professional responsibility to their patients and instead choose to use their professional status to line their pockets.”

Wong pled guilty in Manhattan Supreme Court before Justice Mark Dwyer to Grand Larceny in the First Degree, a class “B” felony. Wong will be sentenced to two to six years in state prison and will forfeit over $3,600,000.

All of her pharmacies, which are now closed, were also convicted:

- NY Pharmacy, formerly at 131 Walker St. in Manhattan, pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the First Degree, a class “B” felony;

- NYC Pharmacy, formerly at 203 East 121st St. in Manhattan, pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the First Degree; and

- NY Healthfirst Pharmacy, formerly at 2021 First Ave. in Manhattan, pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class “C” felony.

In court papers, Wong admitted to paying or directing her employees to pay kickbacks to several undercover agents from the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (“MFCU’) in return for their agreement to fill their HIV prescriptions at her pharmacies.

Wong’s pharmacies then billed and were eventually paid over $60,000 by Medicaid for refills on prescriptions that Wong’s pharmacies either did not dispense to the MFCU undercover agents, a scheme known as “auto-refilling,” or that were predicated on the payment of an unlawful kickback.

State law strictly prohibits all medical providers, including pharmacies, from paying or offering to pay kickbacks to another person in return for the referral of medical services ultimately paid for by Medicaid.

The investigation showed that from January 2014 to August 2017, Wong’s pharmacies did not purchase a sufficient inventory of medication from licensed drug wholesalers to account for the quantity of medication - much of which was for HIV drugs - for which Wong’s pharmacies billed Medicaid and Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (“MCOs”).

Relying on thousands of false claims for payment filed by Wong’s pharmacies, Medicaid and Medicaid MCOs paid Wong’s pharmacies over $3.5 million.

In conjunction with the criminal case, the Attorney General also filed a civil asset forfeiture and New York False Claims Act action against Wong, her pharmacies and another entity owned by Wong, KT Studio Inc. a/k/a/ Dove Cat Studio a/k/a C’est La Vie Studio.

As part of this action, the court approved the Attorney General’s application to freeze Wong’s assets, including several bank accounts, to preserve stolen money. Under the civil settlement, Wong will surrender over $3,600,000 – including over $700,000 in seized cash - all of which will be returned to the New York Medicaid program.


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