Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today announced that Hung Viet Tran, the sole pharmacist at Tran Pharmacy in Portland, pled guilty to multiple felony counts of health care fraud. Tran engaged in a four year scheme to bill Medicare and Medicaid for brand name prescription drugs that he never dispensed or, in some instances, never refilled. Tran was sentenced in Multnomah County Circuit Court to 20 months in prison. Prior to being sentenced, Tran paid $825,000 in restitution to the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
“We rely on our pharmacies and trust our pharmacists to provide the prescription drugs we need, and to act honestly in doing so. Oregon DOJ’s Medicaid fraud unit will continue to diligently prosecute health care providers who commit fraud against Oregonians,” said Attorney General Rosenblum.
The fraud worked like this: Tran would dispense over the counter or cheaper generic drugs to his customers, but he would bill Medicare and Medicaid for more expensive brand name prescription drugs. For example, Tran would bill for the prescription Lovaza and TEVA Omega 3 fatty acids, but would actually dispense a 2.4 cent Costco fish oil capsule, which Medicare would reimburse at $1.64 per capsule. The DOJ’s investigation revealed Tran personally purchased around 70,000 Costco fish oil capsules over a four year period.
The multi-agency investigation was done by the Oregon Department of Justice’s Medicaid Fraud Unit, and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Investigations (HHS-OIG), with contributions from the Oregon Board of Pharmacy and the Portland Police Bureau.
“This case is an excellent example of coordination among law enforcement,” said Assistant Chief of Investigations Donna Henderson for Portland Police. “I’m proud of the work being done by our Family Services Division.”
Steven J. Ryan, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services region including Oregon added, “Patients and taxpayers expect investigation and prosecution of criminals such as Mr. Tran. We continue to work shoulder to shoulder with our State law enforcement partners to optimize every Medicaid and Medicare dollar.”
Kristina Edmunson, Department of Justice, Kristina.Edmunson@doj.state.or.us, 503-378-6002