Baker businesswoman admits to repackaging, redistributing prescription drugs

A Baker woman is awaiting sentencing in federal court after admitting this week to directing a more than $2.2 million Medicare fraud scheme that involved repackaging and redistributing unused prescription drugs.

Some of the drugs were expired, federal authorities said.

Mona Patrice Carter, 47, who was indicted in January, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of health care fraud and now faces up to 10 years in prison and hefty fines.

U.S. District Judge James Brady has not scheduled a sentencing date.

The federal government is seeking to have Carter forfeit more than $2.2 million.

“She admits she broke the law, conduct very out of character for her,” Carter’s attorney, Jim Boren, said Friday. “She hopes she is judged based on all of her life, not just this one thing. She accepts responsibility for her actions and apologizes to everyone her actions have impacted.”

U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Peter Carr said the investigation is ongoing.

A plea agreement says Carter owned and operated a “closed-door” pharmacy in Baton Rouge called Community Pharmacy 1, meaning the majority of its business focused on providing prescription drugs through other health care providers — such as nursing homes and mental health facilities — rather than directly to individual consumers.

The fraud scheme occurred from 2007 to 2013, according to the agreement signed Thursday by Carter, Boren, Interim U.S. Attorney Walt Green and U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney William Kanellis.

Carter paid cash — in increments of $100 to $300 — to employees of Community Pharmacy 1 clients who collected and returned unused medications to her, the agreement states.

“These unused medications — some of which were expired — were often returned to CP1 in large garbage bags,” the agreement notes. “Once CP1 received these unused medications, CP1 employees, acting under Carter’s direction and supervision, placed them in new blister packs and affixed new labels to them.

“CP1 then distributed these repackaged medications to CP1 providers, and billed Medicare as if these re-used drugs were distributed for the first time, effectively billing Medicare twice for the same drugs,” the agreement adds.

Carter, through her company, billed Medicare for distributing more prescription drugs than the company received from its wholesale suppliers, the agreement states.

As a result of her guilty plea, Carter is now excluded from doing business with Medicare, Medicaid and all federal health care programs.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, the FBI and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.