For Immediate Release - June 15, 2011

Former Roxbury Pharmacist Sentenced to Four Years in Jail for Stealing Over $550,000 From MassHealth

BOSTON - A former Roxbury pharmacist has been sentenced to serve four years in jail for defrauding the Massachusetts Medicaid Program (MassHealth) of more than $555,000, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office announced today. Aloysius Chukwukere Nsonwu, age 65, of Roslindale fraudulently billed for medications that were never prescribed by a doctor or dispensed from his Egleston Square Pharmacy

"Medicaid fraud is a serious crime that hurts taxpayers and the Commonwealth by denying MassHealth the necessary funds needed to operate the program efficiently and effectively," AG Coakley said. "Our office will continue to aggressively prosecute these cases, and we are pleased that the Courts recognize the serious nature of this crime."

Nsonwu was sentenced in Suffolk Superior Court by Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly to four years in the House of Correction on charges of Medicaid False Claims (25 counts), Larceny by False Pretenses (25 counts) and Conspiracy. Upon the completion of his jail sentence, Nsonwu will be on probation for five years. Judge Connolly also ordered Nsonwu to pay $555,502.00 in restitution to MassHealth.

In 2007, the Attorney General's Office began an investigation after the matter was referred by MassHealth's Provider Compliance unit. Nsonwu was the owner and sole officer of Egleston Square Pharmacy, Inc., located in Roxbury and is an eligible MassHealth provider. Investigators discovered that from December 2004 through January 2009, Nsonwu submitted claims for dispensing the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) medications Epivir, Zerit, and Viramune to MassHealth using the identification numbers of 25 different MassHealth patients. Each claim listed a prescribing physician who never treated those patients or prescribed those medications. Based on these false claims, MassHealth reimbursements totaling $555,502.11 were deposited into Nsonwu's Egleston Square Pharmacy bank account.

As a result of the AG's investigation, the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy suspended Nsonwu's license to practice pharmacy in March 2010.

On May 20, 2010, a Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against Nsonwu. He was arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on June 1, 2010, and released on $50,000 cash bail. Nsonwu pled guilty to all charges in his Suffolk Superior Court case on April 22, 2011. Today, he pled guilty to all charges and was sentenced. On June 14, 2011, Nsonwu was also sentenced on similar charges in Federal Court in a separate case.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Evelyn Y. Tang and was investigated by Investigator Brian Robinson, both of AG Coakley's Medicaid Fraud Division, with assistance from Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG's Office. Ashley Cinelli was the Victim Witness Advocate. The Boston Office of the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the United States Attorney's Office, the Massachusetts State Police, and the United States Marshals Service all assisted in the investigation.