Queens Pharmacy Owner Sentenced to 36 Months in Prison for Health Care Fraud and Narcotics Distribution
Defendant falsely claimed he was a pharmacist and distributed over 10,000 oxycodone pills
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Earlier today, in federal court in Brooklyn, Harris Hussnain, 41, from Queens, New York and the owner of a pharmacy in Queens, New York, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Rachel P. Kovner to 36 months in prison for his participation in a health care fraud conspiracy, distribution of oxycodone and illegal financial transactions. Hussnain pleaded guilty to the charges in September 2020.
Ray Donovan, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division (DEA); Mark J. Lesko, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Scott Lampert, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, New York Regional Office (HHS-OIG); Jonathan D. Larsen, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, New York (IRS-CI); Frank Walsh, Acting Medicaid Inspector General, New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG); and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the sentence.
“The defendant’s past transgressions speak for themselves. What a shame that a pharmacy owner who had the means and the opportunity to serve his community, did quite the opposite all in the name of greed,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Donovan. “Together with our incredible law enforcement partners, DEA stands committed to protecting our healthcare system from fraud, all while keeping our communities safe. I commend and appreciate all of our partners, as well as our colleagues at the United States Attorney’s Office for their hard work on this investigation.”
“Hussnain masqueraded as a health care professional when, in reality, he is a drug-dealing criminal who abused the trust of the Medicare and Medicaid systems, put New Moon Pharmacy’s customers in harm’s way and introduced thousands of Oxycodone pills into the community during an opioid epidemic,” said Acting United States Attorney Lesko. “With today’s sentence, the defendant has been held accountable for his flagrant falsehoods and fraud.”
“Hussnain brazenly deceived the pharmacy’s customers and threatened their safety in exchange for profit,” said HHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Lampert. “After inappropriately and dangerously dispensing opioid pills and stealing from Medicare and Medicaid, Hussnain has been brought to justice. OIG continues to work with our law enforcement partners to pursue individuals who endanger beneficiaries and cheat the Federal health care programs on which they depend.”
“Hussnain has been appropriately punished for his shameful actions and behavior,” said IRS CI Special Agent-in-Charge Larsen. “His criminal activity not only negatively impacted the finances of our social safety net, but more importantly the lives of those who potentially suffer from addiction.”
“Today’s sentencing is proof positive of the effectiveness of the strong partnerships that exist among city, state, and federal program integrity agencies and law enforcement organizations in combatting those that have fueled the opioid crisis in our communities," said Acting Medicaid Inspector General Welsh. "The message is abundantly clear to anyone who seeks to line their pockets by exploiting the Medicaid program, particularly at these challenging times: you will be caught and held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Between July 2016 and December 2019, Hussnain falsely claimed to be the pharmacist at New Moon Pharmacy in South Richmond Hill. Although Hussnain lawfully owned the business, he was not a licensed pharmacist and was not permitted to dispense prescription medications to patients. Hussnain operated the pharmacy on a daily basis, dispensing prescription medications for years with no medical oversight, including controlled substances and over 10,000 oxycodone pills, billing Medicare and Medicaid for the medications dispensed. Hussnain paid a co-conspirator, Nisha Diler, a licensed pharmacist, to hold herself out as the full-time pharmacist despite the fact that she visited the pharmacy only sporadically. Hussnain filed, and caused Diler to file, falsified paperwork with government entities in New York State in order to cover up Diler’s absences from New Moon Pharmacy.
Between 2016 and 2019, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursed New Moon Pharmacy approximately $3 million for pharmaceutical claims. Hussnain transferred significant amounts of the reimbursed funds to accounts in his and his family’s names. In September 2020, Diler pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud Medicare and Medicaid and subscribing a false tax return.
The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. The case is being prosecuted by United States Department of Justice Trial Attorney Miriam L. Glaser Dauermann and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanisha R. Payne of the Office’s Asset Forfeiture Unit.
Eastern District of New York Docket No. 20-CR-280 (RPK)