NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TN TRIBUNE) – December 3, 2020– A Mississippi man pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Nashville, to conspiracy to pay and receive healthcare kickbacks, announced U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Vernon Sanders, 54 of Meridian, Mississippi, and owner of FastScripts, LLC, was charged in August with conspiring with unnamed co-conspirators to solicit and receive kickbacks and defraud the Medicare Program of $3,381,434.
Sanders was the owner of a marketing company and a patient broker who referred Medicare beneficiaries to laboratories in exchange for kickbacks and bribes. Sanders paid marketers to recruit Medicare patients to provide their genetic material, which he then referred to laboratories for Cancer genomic (“CGx”) testing in exchange for kickbacks. CGx testing uses DNA sequencing to detect mutations in genes that could indicate a higher risk of developing certain types of cancers in the future.
Sanders also paid kickbacks to doctors for signed orders for CGx tests, without regard for the medical necessity of the tests. Sanders was aware that these tests had been procured through the payment of kickbacks, including kickbacks he paid to a physician in Loretto, Tennessee, another co-conspirator. Sanders also paid illegal kickbacks to telemedicine companies in exchange for signed doctors’ orders for genetic testing.
From approximately June 2016 to January 2020, Sanders received approximately $383,260 in illegal kickback payments from laboratories and other marketing co-conspirators. As a result of Sanders’ participation in the conspiracy, Medicare paid laboratories approximately $3,381,434 in reimbursements they were not entitled to receive because the patients had been procured through kickbacks, including orders signed by the physician in Loretto.
Sanders faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced on April 12, 2021,and a fine of up to $250,000; restitution to the Medicare program; and forfeiture of the ill-gotten proceeds.
This case was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah K. Bogni is prosecuting the case.