OKLAHOMA CITY — A former Vance Air Force Base officer and nurse was sentenced Monday to 24 months in federal prison for health care fraud in an illegal pharmacy referral scheme.
Romeatrius Moss, 40, a nurse and former Air Force major, received the sentence after pleading guilty on Oct. 15, 2019. According to a news release from the office of U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Downing, Western District of Oklahoma, Moss accepted kickbacks for referring TRICARE beneficiaries to pharmacies furnishing compounded drugs.
In addition to the prison sentence, Moss was ordered to pay $622,459.00 in restitution to TRICARE.
According to Vance public affairs, Moss was separated from the Air Force on March 30 with an "other than honorable" discharge.
According to felony information filed Sept. 30, 2019, Moss solicited and received $73,823.06 in return for referring prescriptions for members of the military to compounding pharmacies that were reimbursed by TRICARE, a health insurance program for military members, according to the news release.
"Because of resulting cost increases and infringement on patient choice, it is a crime to solicit or receive payments for referrals to health care providers for an item or service that could be paid, in whole or in part, by a federal health care program," the release from Downing's office states.
Moss pleaded guilty in October before U.S. District Judge Patrick R. Wyrick. She admitted that while she was employed in the medical unit at Vance, she gave military members pre-printed prescription pads and induced them to ask their doctors for specific compounded drugs, according to the news release. Moss admitted she sent the prescriptions or caused them to be sent to specific pharmacies. Moss admitted she was paid a kickback that was a percentage of the gross reimbursement the pharmacies received from TRICARE for filling the prescriptions, according to the release.
Wyrick on Monday sentenced Moss to 24 months in custody of the Bureau of Prisons, followed by three years of supervised release.
Moss also was ordered to forfeit her residence at 2519 W. Chestnut in Enid. In October, Garfield County Assessor's Office determined the fair cash value of the residence at $712,860.
She also surrendered a 2016 Porsche Cayenne and a 2000 Fleetwood Pace Arrow as part of her plea agreement.
Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Air Force Office of Special Investigations and Federal Bureau of Investigation Oklahoma City Division collaborated in the investigation, according to the press release.
In July, a minority nursing association won a temporary restraining order against Moss in Mississippi federal court amid a lawsuit over the rights to group's trademark, website and other intellectual property.
The Black Nurses Rock Foundation, which was founded by Moss, represents 174,000 African American nurses and students from the U.S., Canada, Eastern Caribbean, Japan and Germany, according to court records.
The foundation is accusing Moss of hijacking its website and social media accounts after resigning. Members say Moss disabled the group's online presence, according to court records.
She also requested the foundation pay her more than $90,000 a year in funds from donors to continue to use its trademark and other intellectual property, the foundation alleges.
U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden of Mississippi granted the foundation’s request July 13 for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Moss preventing her from interfering with the foundation’s use or registration of any trademark, trade name, domain name, email address, social media account name, account name, or other name that comprises or includes “BLACK NURSES ROCK.”
Moss’s attorney, Brad Harrigan of New Orleans, said in a statement in July to the Clarion Ledger that Moss is the originator of the Black Nurses Rock trademark and social media presence.
“Naturally, we disagree with the outlandish allegations in the complaint,” Harrigan said. "This is a simple trademark dispute, and we look forward to resolving this matter on the merits.”
Moss founded Black Nurses Rock Foundation in 2015 while living in Gulfport, Miss., the Clarion Ledger reported.