A Birchwood couple was quietly at the center of a $65 million "cream scheme" that was aimed at exploiting the military's TRICARE health system. The government says the plot yielded them a 100-acre farm on Grasshopper Road, Rolex watches, multiple luxury cars, gold and silver bars, and plenty of money in the bank.
According to testimony at the current trial in Chattanooga Federal Court, Jimmy and Ashley Collins moved across the country to San Diego after investigators began getting wind of the scheme. One witness said Wayne Wilkerson pulled back from the scam and the operation that included a series of kickbacks was redirected to the Collins couple in San Diego.
Wilkerson is currently standing trial along with Michael Chatfield, Jayson Montgomery, Billy Hindmon and Kasey Nicholson. The prosecution of Jimmy and Ashley Collins is in San Diego.
Ashley Collins at one time worked as a sales rep for Wilkerson.
Prosecutors said Chatfield worked for Collins, but eventually sold Collins his California recruit list.
Jimmy and Ashley Collins were arrested Jan. 26, 2018, in San Diego and they are blaming each other in court for the health care fraud. Ashley Collins is asking for a separate trial.
Her lawyer said, "Both Ms. Collins and Jimmy Collins will present defenses that it was the other who plotted up the scheme and that they themselves had no knowledge of the scheme to commit healthcare fraud or of the illegality of the conduct. Ms. Collins will present a defense that Jimmy Collins was the organizer and boss of this endeavor, that she worked at his instruction, that he had access to all of her computers and emails, that he often sent emails in her name from her account, that he had other forms of control over information related to their corporations and that she had no knowledge of any scheme to defraud TRICARE. Thus, the two defendants’ defenses will be necessarily exclusive and antagonistic."
Prosecutors said under the scheme that over $65 million in claims for creams from a compound pharmacy were submitted to TRICARE just between January and May 9, 2015.
The average charge for the cream was $14,510.33.
Prosecutors said Jimmy and Ashley Collins got kickbacks on the exorbitantly priced creams of over $45 million. Some of that was passed on to "beneficiaries" who signed up to take the creams and to recruiters who lined up more "beneficiaries." There was never a charge for the cream to the "patient" and some were paid $300 per month to be part of a "trial." The government said there was no drug benefit "trial" going on.
The government said the conspiracy "functioned almost like a Ponzi scheme whereby (their corporation) CFK paid kickbacks to Jimmy and Ashley Collins for hiring recruiters in San Diego. Those recruiters in San Diego were hired to recruit 'strawman' patients to request compound medications that they did not need. The patients were told that they were participating in a non-existent medical study. The strawman patients were compensated for participating in that study. In turn, if those patients recruited more patients, they would receive additional payments for their recruiting efforts."
TRICARE actually ran out of money and had to go to Congress in mid-year for billions more - with the compound prescriptions a large factor. TRICARE later discontinued paying for compound prescriptions.
The attorney for Ashley Collins said her husband has been able to delay the trial for almost a year due to his failure to hire a lawyer.
The government is seeking forfeiture of the 100-acre farm at 5904 and 5908 Grasshopper Road. It includes a house, barn, ponds, tractors and other farm equipment.
The government is also seeking to recover the gold and silver bars, $746,798 in a bank account in Bountiful, Utah, and $100,000 in a San Diego bank.
It wants the couple's two Landrover Range Rover Sports, 2015 Audi R8, 2014 NV Augusta motorcycle, 2015 Lexus NX, 2015 Aston-Martin Vanquish coupe and 2015 Aston-Martin convertible as well as a 2016 Rolls Royce and two 2015 Polaris Rangers.
There is also a 78-foot yacht.
Jimmy Collins was initially jailed, but he later was allowed 24-hour, at-home confinement.
Jimmy Collins has been granted the right to leave his home to go to church on Sundays.