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Business Observer Friday, Mar. 9, 2018 1 year ago

Doctor pleads guilty to role in pharmacy scam

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Largo physician received kickbacks and a $72,000 car for writing prescriptions for certain drugs.
by: Business Observer Staff Writer

TAMPA — Anthony Baldizzi, a medical doctor practicing in Pinellas County, has pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges that could land him in prison for up to 10 years.

According to the plea agreement, Baldizzi, 54, of Largo, wrote prescriptions for compounded creams for scars and pain, among other things. The creams, many of which were prescribed to beneficiaries of the federal TriCare benefit program, cost between $900 and $21,000 for a one-month supply.

But beginning in May 2014, Baldizzi, authorities contend, entered into a conspiracy with the owners of Lifecare Pharmacy, a Pinellas County-based compounding pharmacy, and the principals of Centurion Compounding Inc., a Pasco County-based marketing firm that promoted compounded creams.

Lifecare and Centurion agreed to pay Baldizzi 10% of each paid claim resulting from a prescription for a compounded cream written for his patients and filled at Lifecare, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office. The prescriptions were often billed to TriCare, according to the release.

Lifecare received approximately $5.3 million from TriCare for claims made for prescriptions for compounded medications prescribed by Baldizzi as a result of the illegal kickback scheme, officials alleged. In turn, according to the release, the conspirators — pharmacists Carlos Mazariegos and Benjamin Nundy, also co-owners of Lifecare Pharmacy — made cash payments to Baldizzi and bought him a $72,000 luxury car.

Mazariegos and Nundy pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud in related cases and face sentencing in June. Baldizzi's sentencing date has not been set.

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