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Post date: June 27 2001

Brooklyn Pharmacy Owner Charged With $1 Million+ "phantom" Drug Scam

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that the owner of a Williamsburg drugstore has been arrested for stealing more than $1 million from the Medicaid program by fraudulently billing for thousands of expensive drugs that were never dispensed to patients, or were even kept in stock.

Robert Lee and his corporation, A & H Lee Pharmacy, Inc., were each charged with the felony crime of Grand Larceny in the First Degree in Brooklyn Criminal Court today. If convicted, Lee faces up to 25 years in prison. In the case of a corporation, a felony is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or double the amount of the illegal gain.

"This is an increasingly common scheme by corrupt pharmacy owners who bill Medicaid for drugs that they never dispense or even carry in their stores, and it costs taxpayers millions every year," said Spitzer. "Unscrupulous health care providers are being put on notice that my office has zero tolerance for such fraud, and we will vigorously prosecute those individuals who steal from taxpayers and the Medicaid program."

The illegal billings took place between January 1998 and August 2000. Among the 36 different medications improperly billed for were Prozac, Zantac, Diflucan, Buspar, Zoloft, Retrovir, and Paxil.

Spitzer noted that Lee has already made restitution of $1.3 million to the Medicaid program.

Robert Lee, 40, lives at 100 Daly Boulevard in Oceanside, Long Island. He is the owner and supervising pharmacist of A & H Lee Pharmacy, which does business as Hy's Pharmacy and is located at 298 Broadway in Brooklyn.

The Attorney General's Office will refer the matter to the State Education Department's Office of the Professions for a review of Lee's pharmacist license.

Special Assistant Attorney General Robert J. Goldstein, of the New York City Regional Office of the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, is prosecuting the case. All cases are handled under the direct supervision of Deputy Attorney General Jos? Maldonado.

The charges against Lee and his corporation are accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.