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Pharmacy involved in Medicare scheme set to close

December 20, 2011|By Adolfo Flores adolfo.flores@latimes.com

A San Marino pharmacy embroiled in an alleged $18-million Medicare fraud scheme that also involved a Glendale firm will close this week, an employee said.

The Huntington Pharmacy will close Thursday, nearly two months after its operators were charged with participating in a scheme in which Medicare allegedly was bilked for $18 million in false pharmaceutical bills.

Cindy Yung, a pharmacist at Huntington Pharmacy, said owner Phic Lim, 47, and his wife and business partner Theana Khou, 39, of Pasadena, decided to close the business last week.

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Customers are being referred to the CVS Pharmacy at 451 South Sierra Madre Blvd. in Pasadena, Yung said.

Some of the pharmacy’s 10 employees will be working at CVS, including Yung.

“Not all of us are going, a few of us are,” she said.

Lim, Khou and 13 others were arrested Oct. 27 on suspicion of “prescription harvesting.” The scheme involved the couple's business and a separate firm, Manor Medical Imaging Clinic of Glendale, according to a federal criminal indictment.

Prosecutors allege that the clinic and pharmacy billed the government repeatedly for anti-psychotic medications and resold some of the drugs on the black market. The pharmacy billed Medicare nearly $45,000 in 2009, but the figure jumped to nearly $1.5 million in 2010, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Lim and Khou pleaded not guilty Nov. 28 to the Medicare fraud charges in federal court. Their attorney, Victor Sherman, recently said he was seeking an October 2012 trial date in the case, citing its complexity and the number of defendants.

Huntington Pharmacy opened its doors in 1947, said Manager Larry Chaconas.

Customers expressed surprise and disappointment when they heard the news Tuesday, including Harold Ray, who has frequented the establishment for 15 years.

“I regret it a great deal, it’s been a very important part of San Marino,” he said.

Lil Montalvo was getting her prescription filled when she was told Thursday would be the pharmacy’s last day.

“I’ve been coming here since 1960 and it breaks my heart,” she said.
 
 

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