- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Lincoln pharmacist accused of defrauding Nebraska’s Medicaid program out of $14.4 million pleaded guilty Tuesday to health care fraud.

Scott Tran, 44, owner of Tran Pharmacy, submitted hundreds of false claims for a solution used in inhalers for cystic fibrosis patients in the names of his customers’ children, according to prosecutors. Tran submitted 399 claims for reimbursement between May 2009 and February 2015, stating they had been ordered by six Lincoln-area doctors identified only by their initials, documents show.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Everett said he would dismiss 17 other counts against Tran if he pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud. If the judge agrees to the plea agreement when Tran is sentenced in January, he faces eight to 10 years in federal prison on the charge, the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1O8agkG ) reported.

Tran also agreed to pay more than $14.4 million in restitution as part of the plea agreement. In order to pay that amount, he forfeited his right to cash and property seized early in the investigation.

The government could recoup just under $3 million from the sale of Tran’s Omaha home, Lincoln pharmacy, bank accounts, stocks and life insurance policies, Everett said.

Most of the money Tran received from filing false claims was spent gambling at two casinos in Council Bluffs, Iowa, defense attorney Clarence Mock said.

“All of Mr. Tran’s conduct stems from an inveterate gambling addiction that he just couldn’t control,” he said.

The FBI determined that Tran had wagered more than $11 million since 2006 at Harrah’s and Horseshoe Casino, Everett said. Tran spent more than $800,000 at the two casinos from Dec. 1 to Feb. 27 alone, he said.

On Tuesday, the judge also told Tran he likely will be barred from working as a pharmacist.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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