Los Angeles, California - A Calabasas physician was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison for accepting nearly $800,000 in bribes and kickbacks as part of a conspiracy that unlawfully billed health insurers for compounded medication prescriptions.
Dr. Amir Friedman, 56, was sentenced by United States District Judge John F. Walter. Friedman pleaded guilty in October 2019 to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud, and to violate the Travel Act, a federal law that – among other things – forbids the use of the U.S. mail for the purpose of aiding bribery.
Friedman, a licensed anesthesiologist, violated the fiduciary duty he owed to his patients by accepting kickbacks and bribes for writing prescriptions for compounded medications for his patients.
Compounded drugs are tailor-made products doctors may prescribe when the Food and Drug Administration-approved alternative does not meet the health needs of a patient.
From August 2013 to May 2015, Friedman conspired with New Age Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Beverly Hills-based company, and a marketer – listed in court documents as “Marketer A” – to violate federal law. Insurance companies under the California Workers’ Compensation System reimbursed New Age for dispensing prescription drugs and other pharmaceuticals. Marketer A was paid commissions for facilitating the referral of compounded drug prescriptions.
Marketer A provided pre-printed prescription pads for compounded drugs to Friedman and offered Friedman kickbacks and bribes for each prescription he wrote. After Friedman wrote the kickback-tainted prescriptions, New Age dispensed the compounded drugs, billed insurance companies for reimbursement and shipped through the mail the compounded drugs to patients.
In total, Friedman accepted $788,140 in kickbacks and bribes – a sum he received in the form of approximately 28 check payments that represented illicit proceeds from the conspiracy. He admitted in his plea agreement that he was aware that the compounded drugs he prescribed were far more expensive than equivalents.
The FBI investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney Poonam G. Kumar of the Major Frauds Section prosecuted this case.