Attorney General James Announces Sentencing Of Owner Of Three Manhattan Pharmacies For Defrauding Medicaid 

Pharmacist Sentenced to Prison and Forfeited Over $3 Million for HIV Drug Fraud Scheme 

NEW YORK – Attorney General Letitia James today announced the sentencing of licensed pharmacist Hin T. Wong (“Wong”), 50, of Manhattan, the owner of three Manhattan pharmacies in connection with a multi-million dollar Medicaid fraud scheme involving HIV drugs. Wong was sentenced today before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Mark Dwyer to a term of incarceration of two to six years in state prison. Wong additionally forfeited over $3,600,000 as restitution to the New York State Medicaid program. 

“The defendant used vulnerable New Yorkers to steal millions of dollars earmarked for those who truly needed it,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “My office will continue to hold accountable health care professionals who choose to steal public funds rather than provide New Yorkers with essential health care.” 

At the time of her guilty plea last month, 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 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.   

MFCU’s investigation further showed that between January 2014 and August 2017, Wong’s pharmacies did not purchase sufficient quantities of medication from licensed New York State drug wholesalers to account for the quantity of medication -- much of it medication to treat HIV/AIDS -- Wong’s pharmacies claimed to have dispensed to patients and for which Wong and her 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.  

Wong’s three Manhattan pharmacies are now closed:  

  • NY Pharmacy, formerly at 131 Walker St. 
  • NYC Pharmacy, formerly at 203 East 121st St.  
  • NY Healthfirst Pharmacy, formerly at 2021 First Ave.  

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 so that it could be returned to the government that funds the Medicaid program. Under a civil settlement Wong entered at the time of her guilty plea, Wong agreed to surrender over $3,600,000 – including over $700,000 in seized cash – as restitution to the New York State Medicaid program.  

The Attorney General thanks the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) for their assistance in this investigation. The Attorney General also thanks Medicaid MCOs Amida Care and Wellcare; pharmacy benefit managers CVS Caremark and Optum RX; and pharmaceutical wholesalers HD Smith and McKesson for their cooperation with the investigation.  

New Yorkers can report suspected fraud to the Attorney General’s toll-free Fraud Hotline, at (800) 771-7755 or online at ag.ny.gov/medicaid-fraud/contact.  

MFCU’s investigation was conducted by Investigator Nefertiti Clarke with the assistance of Supervising Investigator Dominick DiGennaro and Deputy Chief Investigator Kenneth Morgan. The financial analysis for the investigation was conducted by Principal Supervising Auditor-Investigator Cristina Marin and Auditor-Investigator Megan Scott with the assistance of New York City Regional Deputy Chief Auditor Jonathan Romano and Regional Chief Auditor Thomasina Smith.  

The criminal case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General George Bronner with assistance from Deputy Regional Director Twan Bounds and Regional Director Christopher M. Shaw. The forfeiture action was handled by Special Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Kappakas. Special Assistant Attorney General Thomas O’Hanlon is the MFCU Chief of Criminal Investigations-Downstate. MFCU is led by Director Amy Held and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Paul J. Mahoney. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice José Maldonado.  

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