Pharmacy Owner Sentenced for Conspiracy to Distribute Contraband Cigarettes, Health Care Fraud, and Receiving and Distributing Misbranded Drugs
BALTIMORE, MD—U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. sentenced the owner of Health Way Pharmacy, Salim Yusufov, age 43, of Reisterstown, Maryland, today to 12 months home confinement as part of four years’ probation, for a conspiracy to traffic over $6.6 million in contraband cigarettes, health care fraud, and receipt and delivery of misbranded drugs. Judge Quarles also ordered Yusufov to forfeit $200,000.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; Special Agent in Charge Antoinette V. Henry of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations; and Special Agent in Charge Nicholas DiGiulio, Office of Investigations, Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Distribution of unapproved foreign drugs presents a real danger to U.S. consumers especially barbiturates, which are potentially addictive prescription drugs,” said Antoinette V. Henry, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ Metro Washington Field Office. “We will continue our work to keep such illegal medicines out of the U.S. marketplace and help bring to justice those who would circumvent FDA requirements and place the public health at risk.”
According to his guilty plea, Salim Yusufov, conspired with his brother, Elmar Rakhamimov, and other family members and associates to receive, possess, sell and distribute contraband cigarettes, that is, cigarettes on which the applicable state taxes have not been paid. Rakhamimov, who was the leader and organizer of the scheme, purchased contraband cigarettes on 18 occasions between December of 2011 and November of 2013 from an undercover FBI agent operating in the Baltimore County, Maryland area. Salim Yusufov received more than $81,000 in kickbacks for brokering the first nine of the contraband cigarette transactions with the undercover FBI agent. These transactions included thousands of cartons of contraband cigarettes. The cigarettes were sold and distributed in quantities of 10,000 cigarettes or more, and bore no evidence of the payment of applicable state sales taxes. At the time of the indictment the cigarette tax in Maryland was $2.00 per package of cigarettes ($20 per carton of cigarettes) and the cigarette tax in New York was $5.85 per package of cigarettes ($58.50 per carton of cigarettes). The total tax evaded was more than $1 million.
Salim Yusufov also admitted that he illegally provided unapproved prescription drugs from Germany and Eastern Europe and sold them to customers. Corvalol, also referred to Corvalolum, and Valocordin, is not approved by the FDA for distribution in the United States, although it is sold in Eastern European countries, where it is used to treat elevated blood pressure and as a tranquilizer and sedative. Valocordin and Corvalol contain large amounts of phenobarbital, a prescription drug regulated by the FDA. According to his plea agreement, from July 23, 2010 through July 14, 2011, Yusufov, who is not a licensed pharmacist, imported and distributed Valocordin, dispensing the drug without a prescription.
In addition, Yusufov admitted to defrauding Medicare and Medicaid by causing Health Way Pharmacy to bill for prescriptions and/or prescription refills that the pharmacy did not provide to customers. One of the ways Yusufov did this was by intentionally failing to reverse claims for payment submitted to Medicare when customers did not pick up or otherwise receive refills. A second way that Yusufov defrauded Medicare and Medicaid was by providing drugs other than those prescribed, while still invoicing Medicare or Medicaid for the prescribed medication.
Elmar Rakhamimov, a/k/a “Eric Rakhamimov,” age 42, of Owings Mills, Maryland, and seven other co-conspirators have been convicted for their roles in the scheme and are awaiting sentencing.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI, Baltimore County Police Department, U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations and Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services—Office of Investigations for their work in the investigation and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office for its assistance in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Paul E. Budlow and John W. Sippel, Jr., who are prosecuting the case.