Health care fraud earns ex-druggist prison time

A former Salem pharmacist prohibited from filling prescriptions through Medicaid who filled them anyway has been sentenced to two years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $300,000 in restitution for health care fraud.

Bruce E. Franken, 53, now of Pennsylvania, worked at Lease Drug in Salem from May 14, 2009 through July 14, 2011. He was excluded from participation in all federal health care programs due to a previous felony conviction.

According to a press release from U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach, Franken had already pleaded guilty to the health care fraud charge.

Franken will be on supervised release for three years when he gets out of prison.

The press release said that in 2003, Franken was excluded from participating in all federal health care programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, for a minimum of 10 years due to a felony conviction. His work at Lease Drug occurred during that 10-year period and ended up costing Medicaid $301,550 for the unauthorized prescriptions.

According to online court records for the case in Franklin County, he was placed on probation after pleading guilty to two felony counts of theft and a misdemeanor of gross sexual imposition. The records for Pickaway County did not give detail about the charges, but indicated he was granted intervention in lieu of conviction.

A pharmacy board document issued when his license was revoked in 2002 said Franken used deception to procure a prescription for 30 tablets of the drug Viagra in 2000 from an online pharmacy, that from 1994 to 2000 he stole numerous drugs from his employer, the Orient Correctional Institution in Pickaway County, and that during the same time period, he abused anabolic steroids.