Las Vegas, Nevada - A Las Vegas pharmacist was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Richard F. Boulware II, to 14 months in prison and three years of supervised release for conspiring with others to commit health care fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson for the District of Nevada. As part of his sentence, he was ordered to pay $3,749,121 in restitution.
Nelson M. Mukuna, 41, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements. He was the owner and operator of Atlas Specialty Pharmacy which concentrated in specialty drugs.
The conspiracy was in place between July 2016 to December 2017. It started when Mukuna became friends with Robert Harvey, who in turn introduced him to co-conspirator Alejandro Incera, an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. In November 2016, Mukuna and Incera conspired and agreed that Mukuna would provide Incera with Xeomin, a form of Botox injection, in exchange for Incera’s patient referrals to Atlas Pharmacy for their prescriptions. As their business relationship developed, Incera referred more patients to Atlas. By January 2017, Mukuna started paying Incera $100 cash for each patient referral. Soon after, Mukuna approached other providers and offered cash for their patient referrals. In November 2016, Incera introduced Mukuna to co-conspirator Leslie Kalyn who started engaging in the same kickback referral scheme. In January 2017, Mukuna agreed to pay his co-conspirators $200 per patient referral. The approximate kickback payments totaled $175,000.
In an effort to conceal the kickback scheme, Mukuna structured cash withdrawals from his business bank account in order to avoid a Currency Transaction Report from being generated. Domestic financial institutions, like banks, are required to file transaction reports for cash transactions exceeding $10,000 in a single day.
As a result of this prosecution, Atlas Pharmacy has closed and Mukuna has surrendered his pharmacy and DEA licenses.
The case was investigated by the FBI, the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Nevada Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kilby Macfadden prosecuted the case.
The Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit is a program that utilizes data to help combat the devastating opioid crisis. The District of Nevada was selected as one of 12 districts nationally to participate in the pilot program. The District of Nevada has assigned an experienced prosecutor that focuses solely on investigating and prosecuting health care fraud related to medical professionals who prescribe opioids, that unlawfully divert of dispense prescription opioids for illegitimate purposes.