The Arkansas State Medical Board is keeping a close eye on the pending federal criminal case of a doctor charged in connection with a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme involving prescription drugs.
Dr. Joe David “Jay” May of Alexander was indicted earlier this year along with a medical sales representative, Derek Clifton of Alexander, in a scheme to pay and receive kickbacks to produce expensive prescriptions for compounded drugs, which are medications mixed specifically for an individual patient. According to a news release from Cody Hiland, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Tricare, the military’s health insurer, paid more than $12 million for the prescriptions. May’s alleged role included signing more than 100 pre-filled prescriptions in 2015 for which Tricare paid $4.5 million, according to the filing. The indictment said that, with one exception, May never examined the Tricare beneficiaries.
Kenneth Myers Jr. of Maumelle, who also worked in medical sales, was charged in a superseding indictment in the case last month, and several others recently pleaded guilty in connection with the Tricare allegations. May, Clifton and Myers have pleaded not guilty.
The superseding indictment listed 57 counts, although not all counts apply to every defendant. The charges include conspiracy, wire fraud, anti-kickback violations and money laundering.
In 2015, Tricare paid nearly $2 billion for compound prescription drugs — an 18-fold increase over previous years and red flag for nationwide investigations.
The Medical Board said May remains licensed to practice medicine. May’s indictment came before the board in April, but board members “voted unanimously to table this case until more information can be obtained or the outcome of the court proceedings is received,” according to the board minutes.
When a doctor is indicted on federal charges, the board conducts a concurrent investigation into the criminal case, board attorney Kevin O’Dwyer said via email. “The Board will, obviously, continue to closely monitor the progress of the Federal case,” he wrote. May’s trial is set for Jan. 11 before U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker in Little Rock.
May is innocent and “looking forward to his day in court,” said May’s attorney, Shelly Hogan Koehler of the law firm Snively Fairrell & Koehler of Fayetteville. “Dr. May never received a bribe or kickback from anybody, not even one penny.”
May’s primary specialty is family medicine, and he practices at several hospitals across the state. No patient has ever filed a complaint against him to the Medical Board, according to the board’s file, which Arkansas Business obtained under the state Freedom of Information Act.
Born in Groton, Connecticut, May graduated in 2010 from Ross University School of Medicine in North Brunswick, New Jersey. He then did his residency at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock with a specialty in family medicine.
May “was persistent in getting the right answers and doing everything that he could for his patients,” Dr. Russell Mayo, the director of the family medicine residency program at UAMS, wrote the Medical Board in 2012, recommending that May receive his Arkansas medical license. Mayo also wrote that May always performed in a professional manner. “He was a great reflection for our program,” Mayo said.
May received his medical license in November 2012.
‘Kickbacks at Every Level’
The superseding indictment accused Clifton, May and Myers of being involved in the Tricare scheme, along with Albert Glenn Hudson of Little Rock; Donna Crowder, a registered nurse practitioner in Little Rock; her adult daughter, Jennifer Crowder, formerly known as Jennifer Bracy; and Keith Benson of North Little Rock.
The filing alleged that the group’s tactics included paying and receiving kickbacks and generating fake prescriptions for compounded drugs. “Unbeknownst to Tricare, kickbacks were often paid at every level: to beneficiaries to get the drugs, to recruiters to find beneficiaries, and to medical professionals to rubber stamp prescriptions,” the indictment said.
Since June, Hudson, Donna Crowder, Jennifer Crowder and Benson have all waived indictment and agreed to plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback statute. In January 2015, Hudson, who incorporated Major Healing LLC of Little Rock in 2014, formed a network of patient recruiters to find Tricare beneficiaries and prescribers to rubber-stamp their prescriptions, his plea agreement said. He agreed to forfeit $1.5 million; Jennifer Crowder agreed to forfeit $89,800; and Benson agreed to forfeit $727,679.
They will be sentenced at a later date.