After being charged on 37 counts in the $510 million healthcare fraud scheme back in September 2019, Hattiesburg businessman Wade Walters has been ordered to serve 18 years in prison, as well as pay $287,659,569 in restitution.
Walters, 54, a co-owner of numerous compounding pharmacies and pharmaceutical distributors, was sentenced on his July 2020 guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
“The fraud committed by Walters and others in this investigation wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and deprived individuals of needed medical care,” David P. Burns of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said. “Today’s significant sentence signifies that we will continue to stand with our agency partners to root out health care fraud schemes and see their perpetrators brought to justice.”
The scheme, which took place between 2012 and 2016, targeted TRICARE, the health care benefit program serving the U.S. military, plus other private health care benefit programs.
Instead of writing prescriptions for pain cream medications, which cost $11,000-$14,000 per average prescription, Walters would distribute photocopied prescription pads in order to maximize profit. Additionally, Walters would distribute compounded medications that were not medically necessary.
“Today’s sentencing is another mile marker on the long road to justice for victims, our veterans, our military, and all American taxpayers, as the mastermind of the largest healthcare fraud scheme in Mississippi history has been held to answer for his crimes,” U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst said. “I want to commend our prosecutors, Justice Department trial attorneys, and every member of this incredible team of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies for discovering this scheme and bringing all of these criminals to justice.”
Walters was taken into custody immediately following Friday’s hearing.