California doctors, pharmacists charged in $40 million kickback scheme

SANTA ANA -- A Beverly Hills couple was among more than two dozen doctors, pharmacists, and business owners charged Thursday in an alleged $40 million kickback scheme, CBS Los Angeles reports.

Prosecutors say Tanya Moreland King, 37, and her husband Christopher King, 38, the owners of medical billing and medical management companies Monarch Medical Group, Inc, King Medical Management, Inc. and One Source Laboratories, Inc., orchestrated a complex insurance fraud scheme of recruiting doctors and pharmacists to prescribe unnecessary treatment for workers’ compensation insurance patients.

Two Irvine pharmacists – Charles Bonner, 56, and Mervyn Miller, 66 – are accused of conspiring with the Kings by selling more than $1 million in compound creams that were not federally approved nor have any known medical benefits.

More than 13,000 patients and at least 27 insurance carriers statewide were victims in the scheme, which the Orange County District Attorney’s office says took place between 2011 to 2015 and involved billing for unnecessary creams, tests, and treatments to maximize profits.

According to prosecutors, the Kings worked with pharmacist and co-defendant Charles Bonner, owner of Stevens Pharmacy in Costa Mesa, to manufacture a variety of creams with unknown effects that were not FDA approved.

After purchasing assorted creams for between $15 and $40 per tube, the products were then billed to patients’ workers’ compensation insurance carriers for between $250 and $700 dollars per tube.

Tanya King allegedly invited physicians to participate in the scheme by offering a flat $50 rate or a share in the profits.

“The Kings and their co-conspirators played with patients’ lives, buying and selling them for profit without regard to patient safety,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “Patients have the right to expect treatment decisions by health care professionals are based on medical need and not unadulterated greed. The magnitude of this alleged crime is an affront to ethical medical professionals.”

The California Department of Insurance led the investigation with assistance from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, and National Insurance Crime Bureau. Approximately $23.2 million was paid out to the defendants, but a total of $40 million was billed to insurers, according to officials.