On March 30, 2022, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Manual J. Bojorquez, the owner of a marketing company, was sentenced to 36 months’ probation and ordered to pay restitution of $3.3 million for his role in a kickback scheme. The sentencing follows a plea agreement by Mr. Bojorquez in which he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the federal anti-kickback statute. According to the DOJ and court documents, Mr. Bojorquez, through his company, provided marketing services to various compounding pharmacies. Mr. Bojorquez’s company conspired with the compounding pharmacies to pay kickbacks to physicians in exchange for those physicians referring prescriptions to the compounding pharmacies. The compounding pharmacies then paid Mr. Bojorquez (through various shell companies) a percentage (approximately 45%) of the fees generated from the prescriptions referred by the physicians. The pharmacies billed and received payment from the US Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Workers Compensation Program, which is a federal health care benefit program. Over the course of the conspiracy, the DOL paid over $8 million for the kickback-induced prescriptions.
Interestingly, this kickback scheme did not involve Medicare, unlike typical kickback schemes involving physicians that are prosecuted by the DOJ. This settlement is a good reminder to ensure compliance with applicable fraud and abuse laws when providing or offering anything of value to an actual or potential referral source for federal health care program business, even where Medicare and Medicaid may not be involved.