Jacksonville, Florida – U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces that Dr. Felmor Agatep (59, Jacksonville) pleaded guilty today to theft of government property for receiving kickbacks related to a federal health care benefit program. Agatep faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.
According to the plea agreement, Agatep, a medical doctor practicing in Jacksonville, wrote prescriptions for expensive compound creams to treat scars and pain, among other things. These creams, which were prescribed largely to TRICARE beneficiaries, costing on average more than $16,000 per cream for a one-month supply. Beginning in late 2014, Agatep was recruited by an individual associated with a marketing group in Jacksonville that recruited largely TRICARE beneficiaries as patients and promoted compounded creams for various pharmacies. Agatep was paid $100 per patient to write prescriptions for compound creams that were filled and billed to TRICARE. Individuals working for the marketing group provided patient names and phone numbers to Agatep. Agatep never saw the patients and knew that writing the prescriptions was not in the ordinary course of medical practice and not medically necessary.
Between December 12, 2014, and January 31, 2015, Agatep wrote 268 prescriptions for compound cream medications for TRICARE beneficiaries, for which TRCIARE was billed approximately $4.4 million.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Julie Hackenberry.