A Meridian doctor and his secretary were found not guilty of most federal charges, including those of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud, in an ongoing case involving high-priced pain and scar creams, vitamin supplements and other compounded medications.
Dr. Gregory Auzenne, 49, and Tiffany Clark, 46, were accused of causing around $18 million in fraud in a nationwide scheme that defrauded TRICARE and other health benefits providers of more than $515 million in Mississippi alone.
Clark was accused of five charges in an eight-count indictment. Auzenne was tried for all eight charges.
The jury acquitted Clark of all charges. In Auzenne’s case, the jury rendered not guilty verdicts on seven of the eight charges.
The jury could not reach a unanimous decision on Auzenne’s eighth charge, making false statements relating to health care. It is unclear whether the government will seek a retrial for that charge.
The U.S. Attorney’s office didn’t not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
The verdicts were announced late Friday night after a two-week trial at the Thad Cochran Federal Courthouse in Jackson, with U.S. District Senior Judge Keith Starrett presiding.
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On Thursday, Auzenne took the stand in his own defense, claiming he had no connection with former pharmacist Marco Moran outside of the two men being in the same fraternity in college and a $40,000 loan Auzenne made to Moran to open Custom Care Pharmacy.
When asked why he would loan a virtual stranger $40,000, Auzenne replied, “He was well-known in the Black community.”
Moran testified earlier that the pharmacy was opened to process the fraudulent prescriptions for the pain creams and other medications.
Auzenne denied he had any financial stake in Custom Care or any of the other pharmacies to which his prescriptions were faxed.
However, a public records search by the Clarion Ledger shows Pharmacon, owned by Auzenne and Dewmar International, another of Moran’s companies, share the same address on East Northside Drive in Clinton.
Moran also gave Auzenne a check for $127,000, which Auzenne said was for consulting fees, but Moran and others testified the check was for kickbacks for Auzenne’s signature on preprinted prescription forms for the compounded medicines that were used in the fraud.
Moran, 47, pleaded guilty in September 2018 to his role in the scheme. He is awaiting sentencing.
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Clark was accused of combing through patient files to find those who met the criteria for the pain creams and whose insurance would pay for the medications. She was accused of receiving payment in exchange for the patient files.
The medications were prescribed often without the knowledge of the patient, nor were the patients examined by a doctor in most cases. The pain creams often cost more than $13,000 apiece even though they cost very little to formulate.
Auzenne claimed he never signed the hundreds of prescriptions that were issued for the medications.
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Character witnesses testified in Auzenne and Clark’s defense, saying both were honest and trustworthy. In Clark’s case, they said she also was naive and eager to please, so probably didn’t know she was doing anything wrong.
The massive pain cream scheme, which began in Mississippi, has defrauded TRICARE and other health benefits providers of more than $1.5 billion nationwide, the government contends. At least 25 have been charged in the scheme in Mississippi alone. Twenty of them have been convicted at trial or pleaded guilty.