He improperly billed Medicare & Medicaid.
A Hagerstown pharmacist pleaded guilty on Friday to health care fraud. The US Attorney's Office for Maryland says David Russo, 62, was part of a scheme to bill Medicare and Medicaid for prescriptions that he knew were not written for legitimate medical purposes.
Russo is a licensed pharmacist who owned and operated a pharmacy called "Russo Rx" at 25 North Cannon Street.
In his plea agreement, Russo admits that between January, 2009 to December, 2010, he filled prescriptions for oxycodone, methadone and benzodiazepines, which were being used outside of legitimate medical purposes. He also fraudulently billed Medicare and Medicaid.
In addition, Russo admitted to accepting cash for Schedule II drugs which were not covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Those included oxycodone and methadone, which are approved for medical use, but have a very high abuse potential, according to federal authorities. Russo also split prescriptions, accepting an amount of cash at the time of the transaction, and the rest at a later date. Also, customers would call Russo and asked if he had oxycodone "in stock" and how much it would cost. Federal officials say customers would travel from out of state or in van loads to "Russo Rx." They came to receive a "cocktail" prescription of oxycodone, Roxicodone and Xanax, which when combined can have several side affects and potential for abuse and addiction.
Along with that, the feds say, Russo made gross sales of $700,000 a month for several months in 2010. He also made at least 55 cash deposits between December 1st, 2009, and June 15th, 2010, totaling $862,000.
Federal authorities say Russo improperly billed and received payment for more than $109,207.25 from Medicare, and $200,146.33 from Medicare.
As part of his plea agreement, Russo will have to pay restitution for the money he fraudulently billed Medicare and Medicaid, and forfeit the $39,000 in cash that the Drug Enforcement Agency confiscated while serving a search warrant at his pharmacy in December, 2010.
Sentencing is scheduled for August 22nd in US District Court in Baltimore. Russo could receive 10 years in prison, but he and federal prosecutors have agreed to a sentence of 30-months.
In addition to the US Attorney's Office, the DEA also assisted in this investigation.