Mississippi Resident Sentenced to 78 Months in Prison for Healthcare Fraud

Published 11:22 am Sunday, December 5, 2021

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A federal judge today sentenced a Mississippi resident for healthcare fraud and conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson .

Chief U.S. District Court Judge L. Scott Coogler sentenced Phillip Minga, 56, of Amory, Mississippi, to 78 months in prison. In August, Minga pleaded guilty to four counts of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The court also ordered Minga to forfeit $7.1 million and to repay more than $16.1 million in restitution.

“By continuing to own or manage pharmacies in Alabama and Mississippi that accepted Medicare patients, Minga did exactly what he agreed not to do” U.S. Attorney Escalona said. “Medicare may exclude persons and companies that it believes do not meet the program’s high standards. Today’s sentence demonstrates that fraudulently evading an exclusion from Medicare is a serious offense with serious criminal penalties.”

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“Being a healthcare professional in the Medicare program is a privilege, not a right. When an excluded healthcare provider knowingly disregards restrictions and bills federal health care programs, they divert funds intended to provide care and services for our country’s most vulnerable population,” said Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of the HHS-OIG Atlanta Regional Office. “Today’s sentencing should serve as a warning to those who seek to enrich themselves through such fraud schemes.”

According to documents filed by the government,  on October 17, 2016, Minga signed a written agreement in which he agreed to be excluded from the Medicare Program for 10 years. The exclusion agreement provided that Medicare would not pay claims submitted by anyone who employed Minga in a management or administrative role. Nevertheless, from 2016 until 2021, Minga committed healthcare fraud by continuing to manage and control pharmacies that submitted claims for payment to Medicare. In order to avoid detection, Minga ensured that those submitting Medicare enrollment/revalidation paperwork for these pharmacies would not disclose Minga’s ownership interest or managerial role in these pharmacies. From October 17, 2016, to August 16, 2021, Medicare paid approximately $16,109,446.67 to the pharmacies in which Minga had an ownership interest or managerial role.

HHS-OIG investigated the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lloyd Peeples, Ryan Rummage, and Don Long prosecuted the case.