Leader In Cream Scheme: "It's Money Making Time. Saddle Up"

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A federal investigator testified Tuesday that a local leader in the "cream scheme" sent out an email to associates soon after it was learned that the federal healthcare agency for veterans was going to continue paying for compound drugs.

The witness said Wayne Wilkerson wrote on Jan. 9, 2015: "It's money making time. Saddle up."

Wilkerson, who is from Ooltewah, is on trial on federal criminal charges of healthcare fraud along with Michael Chatfield, Kasey Nicholson, Billy Hindmon and Jayson Montgomery.

Investigator Erik Srock of the Department of Defense's Office of Inspector General said there was a meeting in January of 2015 of TRICARE officials on the topic of exorbitantly expensive compound drugs. TRICARE decided at the time to continue the payments, but not long afterward cut them off.

Costs for compound drugs (with several ingredients that are specially prepared) were a major factor in TRICARE running out of money and having to go to Congress in mid-year for a special appropriation.

Billings to the federal government, private insurors and even to the self fund of the Hamilton County Schools was as high as $15,000 for a bottle of cream - said to relieve pain and cure scars, warts and skin disorders.

The witness said the Chattanooga group was involved in a scheme built on multiple kickbacks. He said they had agreements with pharmacies and physicians.

Wilkerson was wired hundreds of thousands of dollars monthly to the Top Tier LLC he set up. With some pharmacies he got a "commission" of 30 to 35 percent and with others 40 percent of the cream receipts.

In turn, he paid lesser commissions to those who worked under him recruiting others to agree to take the creams.

The others who are charged also had LLCs that were set up to receive the large amounts of cream revenue and pass lower commissions on to "recruiters." Some of the recruiters had their own LLCs as well.

He said Matthew Perkins, a recruit under Ms. Nicholson, "would pay them $25 or $50 or buy them an alcoholic drink" to get people to sign up to accept the creams.

Investigator Srock said prescriptions in the case were written by Susan Vergot and Candace Cravens, who were at a pharmacy in Cleveland, Tn., and by nurse practitioner Toni Dobson. Dr. Vergot and Ms. Cravens have been charged. Ms. Dobson has not.

The witness said pharmacies involved included Willow Pharmacy, Central Rexall, Florida Pharmacy Solutions and Soothe.

A defense attorney noted that the pharmacies were getting from 60-70 percent of the take and asked if they were going to be prosecuted. The agent said, "Other agencies are looking at the pharmacies."

He was also asked why others were not charged, including Brian Kurtz, identified as "somewhat of a silent partner" of Wilkerson. It was noted that the government can choose whether to go after someone criminally or civilly or not at all.

The government is expected to close its case, which is being heard by Judge Sandy Mattice without a jury, on Wednesday. 

 

 

 

 


Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Taylor Charged With Robbing Same South Pittsburg Bank Twice

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report


Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: ANDERSON, CHRISTOPHER ALLEN 4924 BAL HARBOR CIRCLE HARRISON, 37416 Age at Arrest: 30 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County VIOLATION ... (click for more)

Federal authorities have charged a man with robbing the same South Pittsburg bank on two occasions. A criminal information says Bradley Shawn Taylor robbed the First Jackson Bank at 201 Battlecreek ... (click for more)

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: ADAIR, SHAMEIKA SHANNETTE 6752 HARBOR CIR CHATTANOOGA, 37416 Age at Arrest: 28 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga THEFT OF PROPERTY ... (click for more)


Breaking News

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: ANDERSON, CHRISTOPHER ALLEN 4924 BAL HARBOR CIRCLE HARRISON, 37416 Age at Arrest: 30 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County VIOLATION OF CONDITIONS OF RELEASE --- BALTIMORE, KENYON LAMAR HOMELESS 1000 E 14TH ST AREA CHATTANOOGA, 37404 Age at Arrest: 41 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County FORGERY ... (click for more)

Taylor Charged With Robbing Same South Pittsburg Bank Twice

Federal authorities have charged a man with robbing the same South Pittsburg bank on two occasions. A criminal information says Bradley Shawn Taylor robbed the First Jackson Bank at 201 Battlecreek Road on Dec. 19, 2016. It says he robbed the bank again on Aug. 15, 2017. The Lawrence County Sheriff's Office arrested Bradley Shawn Taylor, who was then 35, at his home in ... (click for more)

Opinion

Ignored By The Water Company

How much time do you spend at Tennessee American Water's website? It is worthless for online reporting problems. Replies? Never happen. Communication? They appear to consciously avoid honest communication with concerned citizens. This "Opinion Page" is an avenue of last resort to report a problem, because no one is trying to listen at Tennessee American Water. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Let’s Start With Truth

By all accounts the public schools in Chattanooga and Hamilton County are far from what the average taxpayer would want them to be. Our schools are our number one priorities, this easily reflected by the fact they now receive over 60 percent of the total county budget -- the most money ever allocated to public education in history -- and the unbridled desire of our booming area ... (click for more)

Sports

UTC Soccer Records Another Shutout At Citadel

The Chattanooga women’s soccer team earned a record-tying eighth shutout with a 2-0 win over The Citadel Sunday afternoon in Southern Conference action at the Washington Light Infantry Field. The Mocs improve to 8-4-3 on the year and 3-2-1 in league action. The Citadel falls to 5-6-2 overall and 1-4 against the conference. The Mocs matched a school record eight shutouts set ... (click for more)

Covenant Scores Big USA South Win Over Maryville On Riggs PK

Jesse Riggs' penalty kick in the 77th minute and a stout defensive effort from the Covenant men's soccer team lifted the Scots to a pivotal, 1-0, victory over Maryville in USA South action on Saturday night at Scotland Yard. Covenant (11-2-1, 8-0 USA South) gains sole possession of first place in the USA South West Division with the win. The Scots finish the regular season ... (click for more)