Fort Worth

7 Fort Worth-area pharmacy owners and marketers charged in $9 million kickback scam

Eight Fort Worth area pharmacy owners and marketers charged Wednesday in $9 million kickback scheme.
Eight Fort Worth area pharmacy owners and marketers charged Wednesday in $9 million kickback scheme.

Seven area pharmacy owners and marketers were charged Wednesday in a $9 million kickback scam that federal authorities say went on for two years.

A federal indictment unsealed Wednesday says two companies, Rxpress Pharmacy and Express Compounding in Fort Worth, used the same marketers but paid them differently to disguise kickback payments on federal prescriptions.

Federal authorities noted the two companies were separate in name only, as they employed the same staff. A marketer from California was also indicted.

Five of the suspects were arrested Tuesday, and three surrendered to authorities Wednesday morning.

The suspects face federal charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Federal court records identified the suspects as Richard Hall, 48; Scott Schuster, 47; Dustin Rall, 43; George Lock Paret, 35; and Michael Ranelle, 49, all of Fort Worth. In addition, John Le, 43, of Dallas, Luke Zeutzius, 36, of Horseshoe Bay, and Quintan Cockerell, 37, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., were charged in the case.

Hall, Shuster, and Rall are co-owners of Rxpress Pharmacy and Express Compounding at 1000 W. Weatherford St.

Le, Hall, Schuster, Rall, Paret and their co-conspirators are accused of engaging in a scheme to pay kickbacks and bribes for the referral of TRICARE and U.S. Labor Department beneficiaries to obtain expensive compound drugs. TRICARE is a health care program for uniformed service members, retirees, and their families.

Rxpress and Express Compounding operated in the same building and used a call center to direct prescriptions depending on whether the prescriptions were covered by private or federal insurers, according to federal agents.

The indictment alleges that as a result of the scheme, Ranelle was paid about $2.6 million, Cockerell received approximately $2.1 million and Zeutzius was paid $4.4 million in illegal kickbacks, for a total of about $9.1 million.

Have you seen any of these 10 most wanted criminals in Tarrant County? Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest. Call 817-469-8477.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

Star-Telegram breaking news reporter Domingo Ramirez Jr. has been in journalism for more than 35 years. It’s the job he has loved from day one.