Criminal Justice

Houston power couple sentenced to federal prison in $126 million fraud scheme

The defendants paid kickbacks to patient recruiters and physicians to prescribe the drugs, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

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A Houston couple was sentenced to federal prison for their involvement in a $126 million fraud scheme.

The notable Harris County couple were a few in the scam involving 9 defendants who were sentenced for their respective roles in a scheme to defraud the Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs and a healthcare program for U.S. service members and their families.

The couple, 52-year-old John Cruise and 50-year-old LaShonia Jackson, owned a Harris County pharmacy, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The nine defendants submitted false claims to the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs and TRICARE for prescriptions of drugs normally prescribed to injured federal workers.

The defendants paid kickbacks to patient recruiters and physicians to prescribe those drugs, and chose the particular compounds and other drugs based on the amount of reimbursement for the drugs. Those drugs were then mailed to patients, despite the patients never requesting them.

Cruise, a former co-owner of Assurance Consolidated Pharmacy, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, according to the department. Johnson was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Other defendants were given shorter sentences, ranging from one to ten years in federal prison.

Kenny Ozoude, James Don Jackson, Nirvana Hightower, Keith Hudson, Audra Jones, Terrance Aice and Sherod Johnson were also sentenced for their involvements in the scheme.