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Pharmacist to help fraud prosecution

ATLANTA - A Loganville pharmacist who admitted to bilking Georgia's Medicaid program of more than $700,000 by way of bogus prescriptions is aiding the prosecution of two men who allegedly dragged him into the scheme, authorities said.

Kanili Shoemaker filled unauthorized prescriptions for medicines used to treat cancer and HIV - and accepted $717,516 in Medicaid reimbursement for the drugs - while working as a pharmacist at a Publix on Stone Mountain Highway in Lilburn.

Shoemaker pleaded guilty in January to charges of conspiracy to defraud state or political subdivision and false writing in Gwinnett Superior Court.

Federal prosecutors are now relying on Shoemaker to help prosecute two alleged co-conspirators who masterminded the scheme, authorities said Wednesday.

A federal grand jury indicted Varian Scott, 35, of Miami, and Hezron Collie, 29, of Atlanta, on charges they defrauded pharmacies throughout metro Atlanta of roughly $1.1 million over an eight-month period beginning in September 2005.

The scheme hatched when Scott and Collie obtained blank doctors' prescription pads from Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute - Collie's former employer - and two other doctors. They used the personal information of dozens of patients to forge prescriptions at CVS, Publix, Walgreens, Kroger and Eckerd locations, according to United States Attorney David E. Nahmias.

The suspects allegedly recruited Shoemaker, who filled 135 fraudulent prescriptions, billing each to the state's Medicaid provider.

Drugs obtained illegally by Shoemaker and his associates include Sustiva, Norvir, Neupogen, Viramune and Truvada, according to court documents. He was released on $55,200 bond hours after his January arrest.

A Publix pharmacy representative has said Shoemaker is no longer employed there.

"Those who cheat Medicaid are cheating the American taxpayers, who ultimately bear the financial loss," Nahmias said.