Friday, August 18, 2006

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Houston Pharmacist Tita Convicted, Sentenced To 23 Years In Medicaid Fraud Scheme

HOUSTON - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit scored another huge victory Thursday as a Houston registered pharmacist was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 23 years in prison, $621,000 in restitution and a $10,000 fine.

Christopher V. Tita, 41, owner of South Gessner Pharmacy, was convicted of first-degree theft for engaging in an elaborate scheme to significantly inflate the prices of medications by switching to more expensive prescriptions, which were never authorized by physicians, then billing Medicaid at the higher prices.

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Christopher Tita
Christopher Tita

“We will not tolerate criminals who steal public money intended for those most in need,” said Attorney General Abbott. “Our officers will work tirelessly to root out and prosecute Medicaid fraud where we find it in Texas. We are grateful for our strong partnership with Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal’s office.”

From April 1999 through August 2000 Tita carried out this scheme, billing the Medicaid Vendor Drug Program at exorbitant rates. His scheme involved receiving legitimate prescriptions from Medicaid recipients, filling the prescriptions as written, then re-writing other unauthorized prescriptions for more expensive medications which were then submitted to Medicaid for reimbursement.

The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that the pharmacist’s inventory records could not account for the amounts of more expensive drugs being billed through Medicaid. Investigators interviewed numerous physicians about the prescriptions they wrote, and they denied prescribing the more expensive medications.

Tita was indicted by a Harris County grand jury in March 2005. The case was prosecuted by the Harris County District Attorney’s Special Crimes Bureau and Assistant Attorney General Rod Boyles.

To obtain more information about the Attorney General’s efforts to fight Medicaid fraud, access the agency’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.