PACIFIC PALISADES—A Pacific Palisades woman was indicted on Wednesday, February 5 for participating in a money laundering scheme that cost health insurance companies millions of dollars.
Regina Piehl, 66, is accused of receiving paid kickbacks to refer and obtain prescriptions for Orange County based company Professional Compounding Pharmacy (PCP). Piehl was named in the indictment along with three other defendants including: Dr. Michael Edwards, 52, of Huntington Beach, James Nate Bell, 38 of Anaheim Hills, and Sara Samhat, 45, of Huntington Beach. All four defendants are facing charges of health care fraud, illegal kickbacks, money laundering and mail fraud.
In relation to the arrests, federal agents obtained warrants to seize a Cadillac Escalade and two of Bell’s brokerage accounts.
The indictment outlines a scheme where Professional Compounding Pharmacy, its team of marketers and a collusive doctor made millions of dollars by fraudulently generating prescriptions for custom-made compound creams. Some of these medical creams cost as much as $15,000 per tube.
The defendants established two bogus pain clinics in National City and Lawndale which recruited patients who were beneficiaries of insurance companies TRICARE and ILWU. Allegedly, the accused paid beneficiaries $200 each to receive treatment by doctors who claimed they were conducting pain studies to test the efficacy of the prescription creams. The scheme reached its peak in 2015 and continued into 2016.
PCP used a network of marketers and a doctor to find beneficiaries of TRICARE and ILWU. PCP enlisted the participation of other doctors and a nurse to write prescriptions for the pain relief creams. The prescriptions were filled including myriad refills that were not medically necessary.
TRICARE lost approximately $19 million and ILWU lost approximately $3 million as a result of the scheme.