Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Mississippi
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Doctor and Nurse Sentenced for Conspiracy to Commit Health Care Fraud in Compounding Pharmacy Scheme
Jackson, Miss. – Dr. Thomas Edward Sturdavant, M.D., 56, of Cordova Tennessee, was sentenced Monday and Freda Cal Covington, RN, 55, of Hattiesburg, was sentenced today by Senior U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett for their roles in a conspiracy to commit health care fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, Special Agent in Charge Michelle Sutphin of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) in Mississippi, and Special Agent in Charge Cyndy Bruce of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Criminal Investigative Service’s (“DCIS”) Southeast Field Office.
Sturdavant was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a monetary judgment of $160,000, along with restitution in the amount of $1,628,409. Covington was sentenced to 18 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Co-defendant Dr. Shahjahan Sultan was sentenced on June 16, 2020 to 48 months in prison for his involvement in the conspiracy.
Beginning around May 2014, Sultan entered into a contract with a pharmacy located in Jackson County, Mississippi. Pursuant to the contract, Sultan agreed to prescribe individuals expensive compound medications in exchange for the pharmacy agreeing to pay Sultan 35% of the reimbursements it received for the prescriptions Sultan authorized.
In September 2014, Dr. Sultan offered to pay Dr. Sturdavant $900,000 to perform telemedicine services and prescribe more expensive compounded medications that had no medical effectiveness. Dr. Sturdavant also signed more than fifty prescriptions for the compounded medications for individuals he did not examine. As a nurse, Covington helped further the conspiracy by identifying individuals in places like Jones County, Mississippi who had insurance that covered the expensive compounded medications. She conducted cursory physical examinations of patients at places like gas stations and public playgrounds and falsified patient assessments for patients she knew did not need the expensive compounded medications.
Sturdivant pled guilty before Judge Starrett on November 21, 2019, and Covington pled guilty on October 15, 2019.
Fallon Page, another nurse, pled guilty on November 21, 2019, to mail fraud for her involvement with having the unnecessary compound medications shipped to patients by the pharmacy. She will be sentenced by Judge Starrett on July 7, 2020.
The case was investigated by the FBI and DCIS. Assistant Chief Dustin M. Davis and Trial Attorney Sara E. Porter of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathlyn R. Van Buskirk of the Southern District of Mississippi prosecuted the case.
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