By Carlotta Mohamed
An owner of four pharmacies in Queens was arraigned in a Brooklyn federal court last week on charges of swindling nearly $7.9 million in fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid payments to live a lavish lifestyle, according to the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The defendant, Aleah Mohammed — also known as Aleah Haniff — 33, of South Ozone Park, was indicted Sept. 24 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven Tiscione.
“As alleged in the indictment, Mohammed used her pharmacies to steal from publicly funded health care programs and fund her lavish lifestyle,” said U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue. “This office and our law enforcement partners are committed to holding accountable fraudsters who seek to enrich themselves at the expense of vital taxpayer-funded programs upon which so many Americans rely.”
According to an indictment, Mohammed owned and operated four pharmacies including, Superdrugs Inc. — located at 127-04 Liberty Ave. in South Richmond Hill — and S&A Superdrugs II Inc. — located at 138-10 Farmers Blvd. in Jamaica.
According to authorities, beginning in approximately May 2015 and continuing through June 2018, Mohammed and others submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare Part D plans and Medicaid for reimbursement for prescription drugs that were not dispensed, prescribed as claimed or medically necessary. The fraudulent claims included claims for prescription drugs for the treatment of HIV.
Through Mohammed’s scheme, her pharmacies received approximately $7.9 million in reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, using the proceeds to purchase, among other things, luxury items including a Porsche and jewelry, authorities said.
If convicted of health care fraud, Mohammed faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, according to authorities.
“These investigations matter because the subjects are stealing money each and every one of us pays in taxes to fund these programs,” said William Sweeney, FBI assistant director-in-charge. “What adds insult to injury, defrauding the government and stealing money is rarely about anything more than spending money on frivolous things like pricey jewelry and fast cars. Our ultimate goal is to stop these fraudsters from wasting the millions they steal so it can go to the patients and taxpayers who depend on it.”
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha