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Thursday, March 11, 2021
Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Louisiana
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 4, 2021
Three Plead Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Health Care Fraud
NEW ORLEANS - U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that CHRISTOPHER BLACKSTONE (“BLACKSTONE”), JOSEPH CAMPO (“CAMPO”), and MARIO DELUCA (“DELUCA”) have each pled guilty in federal court relating to their roles in a health care fraud conspiracy.
BLACKSTONE,age 43, a resident of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pled guilty on February 24, 2021 before U.S. District Judge Lance M. Africk to Count One of a Bill of Information charging him with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1347 and 1349.
CAMPO, age 78, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, pled guilty on February 25, 2021 before U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan to Count One of a Bill of Information charging him with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
DELUCA, age 37, a resident of Metairie, Louisiana, pled guilty on February 24, 2021 before U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo to Count One of a Bill of Information charging him with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1347 and 1349.
According to the charging documents, CAMPO was a licensed pharmacist in the State of Louisiana and worked as the Pharmacist-in-Charge (“PIC”) at Prime Pharmacy Solutions (“Prime”), which was located in Slidell, Louisiana. BLACKSTONE served as the owner of Prime and DELUCA served as the Information Technology (“IT”) Director.
Between 2014 and 2016, Prime operated as a primarily closed-door pharmacy that was in the business of mixing and filling prescriptions for compounded medications that were reimbursed by health care benefit programs, including TRICARE, a health care benefit program for United States military personnel and their families.
BLACKSTONE, CAMPO, DELUCA, and other co-conspirators, acting on behalf of Prime, selected formulas for compounded medications, not based on scientific evaluations of effectiveness or individualized patient need, but rather, to maximize reimbursement from TRICARE and other health care benefit programs. Prime then mass produced these High-Yield Compounded Medications and created a series of preprinted prescription forms encouraging and directing prescribers/doctors to prescribe these High-Yield Compounded Medications.
“Individuals involved in this scheme illegally bilked TRICARE out of close to $15 million and I am pleased that the U.S. Attorney’s Office is requiring justice,” said Special Agent in Charge Cynthia Bruce, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Southeast Field Office. “There are no victimless crimes and DCIS agents will continue to pursue unscrupulous greedy individuals who steal from our military health care system and all taxpayers.”
The Court set sentencing of BLACKSTONE and DELUCA for August 11, 2021 and CAMPO for August 19, 2021. CAMPO faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five (5) years, a maximum $250,000 fine, three (3) years supervised release following any term of imprisonment, a $100 special assessment fee and restitution in the amount of $3,015,579.17 to be paid to TRICARE. BLACKSTONE and DELUCA face a maximum term of imprisonment of ten (10) years, a maximum $250,000 fine, three (3) years supervised release following any term of imprisonment, and a $100 special assessment fee. BLACKSTONE has agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $10,689,005 to TRICARE, and DELUCA has agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $777,749.20 to TRICARE.
U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service – Office of Inspector General, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General, and the United States Postal Service – Office of Inspector General.
The prosecution of the case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn McHugh.