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15 medical professionals indicted in $25M scam

By Tami Abdollah

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:36 p.m. HST, Jun 24, 2014

LOS ANGELES » Fifteen doctors, pharmacists and others medical professionals in Southern California have been charged in a $25 million workers' compensation scam that prosecutors say was linked to the death of a baby.

Recently unsealed indictments allege that Kareem Ahmed, who heads the workers' compensation claims management firm Landmark Medical Management, hired pharmacists to produce a pain-relief cream, gave kickbacks to doctors and chiropractors to prescribe it, and also conspired to submit phony claims.

A coroner's report said a 5-month-old boy in Los Angeles County ate the cream and died. Ahmed, pharmacist Michael Rudolph and Dr. Andrew Jarminski have been charged with involuntary manslaughter. In addition, the parents of the baby are suing over his death.

Prosecutors also alleged insurance fraud and conspiracy in the 44-count indictment, with crimes occurring from Oct. 1, 2009, through Jan. 31, 2013. Kickbacks to individuals were as high as $8 million over multiple years, the indictment says.

Ahmed, a major campaign donor to President Barack Obama, is accused of paying doctors more than $25 million between June 2010 and December 2012 to dispense the creams manufactured by pharmacists Ahmed had contracts with.

The indictment says Jarminski was paid more than $1.9 million and Rudolph more than $1 million in kickbacks. Attorneys for Rudolph and Jarminski didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ahmed's attorney, Richard Moss, denies Ahmed did anything illegal and said he's confident his client will be exonerated.

Moss said the medications were lawfully prescribed by doctors, filled by licensed pharmacists, and compounded appropriately by licensed pharmacists. He said his client's company dealt with the claims to collect on the prescriptions.

Moss said the death of the child was a tragedy but it was "outrageous" to blame the doctor, pharmacist and the head of the company dealing with the workers' compensation insurance claims. Moss said he plans to challenge the legal sufficiency of the case.

"You can buy things that are inherently dangerous for human life in any store," Moss said. "You can buy rat poison. If it's misused, that should not create liability (because) Wal-Mart might have sold it."

The baby's parents are suing Jarminski, his assistant, medical group and pharmacy alleging negligence and that the cream wasn't properly prescribed and mother Priscilla Lujan wasn't adequately warned of the risks of the cream and how to apply it.

Lujan saw the doctor for back and knee pain in February 2012 and according to the lawsuit was provided a cream that the autopsy on the baby said included the antidepressant Amitriptyline, the cough suppressant Dextromethorphan and the pain reliever Tramadol. After applying it, she held her baby boy, let him suck her fingers to soothe him, and prepared a bottle for him, said her attorney Shawn McCann.

The next morning, the baby was found in bed unresponsive and tests showed he'd ingested lethal amounts of drugs in the cream. Lujan was initially arrested, McCann said, but the Los Angeles County district attorney's office didn't file charges because of insufficient evidence, said spokeswoman Jane Robison.

McCann said Lujan received medication with no warning, instructions or even her name on it.

"She's relying on the doctor to do the best for her," McCann said. "Turns out he was doing what was best for himself."

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saywhatyouthink wrote:
The mother is mostly to blame for this tragedy. At least be good thing will come of this, a crooked medical scam was uncovered. Everyone know there is huge fraud in the American medical system, particularly Medicare and workers comp insurances. These doctors may not be guilty of manslaughter but they are all guilty of insurance fraud and should be made an example of. Maximum terms should be handed down to deter other medical professional from trying to scam the medical system as well.
on June 24,2014 | 08:18PM
hikine wrote:
The cream was concocted with combinations of potent prescription drugs which was not approved by the FDA. Pharmacists are not pharmaceuticals and can't market drugs they created themselves. The cream probably wasn't labeled properly of it's warnings. Doctors can't prescribe unapproved drugs not approved by the FDA.
on June 24,2014 | 10:57PM
HanabataDays wrote:
There's nothing illegal per se about compounding medications, but compounding pharmacies have come under a lot of scrutiny lately. The "ingredients" mentioned in the article are all approved drugs, so that's not an issue. However, putting amitryptaline and dextromethorphan in a topical "pain relief" cream is gonna be VERY closely scrutinized -- and rightly so, because it makes no medical sense. Lastly, there was the mother using a medication prescribed for her, on her baby for no apparent rationale. It sounds like there are several different flavors of liability involved here, several layers of players, and the lawyers will be raking it in.
on June 25,2014 | 01:16AM
Upperkula wrote:
RE:r Hanabata days, I don't think mama administered the drug to her baby. She applied the cream to her self... never washed her hands and use her finger as a pacifier, that's how baby ingested that so called ointment.
on June 25,2014 | 07:07PM
Mythman wrote:
Watch your back, always...
on June 25,2014 | 03:50AM
false wrote:
Scamming crooks meet idiot mom.
on June 25,2014 | 05:17AM
LittleEarl_01 wrote:
How else are they, the professsionals going to pay for their exotic cars, golf club memberships, and million dollar homes?
on June 25,2014 | 05:53AM
Maipono wrote:
"Ahmed, a major campaign donor to President Barack Obama, is accused of paying doctors more than $25 million between June 2010 and December 2012 to dispense the creams manufactured by pharmacists Ahmed had contracts with." This is what "crony capitalism" is all about and why Obamadon'tcare is fraught with problems.
on June 25,2014 | 06:01AM
788686 wrote:
so tell me, what kinds of problems have you had with Obamacare?
on June 25,2014 | 10:52AM
saveparadise wrote:
Only in America can you get rich by suing somebody for your own stupidity. However in this case it uncovered a whole bunch of nasty corruption.
on June 25,2014 | 09:29AM
awahana wrote:
What a country!
on June 25,2014 | 11:59AM
hawn wrote:
Just think how many other's are out there scamming the system...
on June 25,2014 | 09:48AM
South76 wrote:
Like the VA scandal...the Obamacare will follow suit where there is no one accountable...everyone involved--government union due payers will cook the book to make Obamacare looks good and get taxpayers money as bonuses for cooking the book.
on June 25,2014 | 11:04AM
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