Nursing home operators to face trial over kickback scheme

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Two nursing home operators are set to stand trial to face whistleblower allegations that Omnicare Inc. paid them kickbacks during its purchase of Total Pharmacy.

Over a week ago, Omnicare settled its part of the suit by agreeing to pay $17.2 million to the government, according to the Chicago Tribune. The nursing home operators, Philip and Morris Esformes, denied taking kickbacks, however, and will fight the case in court.

The plaintiff and whistleblower, Maureen Nehls, alleges that when Omnicare purchased Total Pharmacy, it included a multimillion-dollar kickback to secure long-term pharmacy contracts with more than two dozen nursing homes operated or influenced by the Esformes. She filed under the False Claims Act.

According to the Tribune, Nehls also claimed that Phillip paid $4,000 for a 40% stake in Total Pharmacy in 2002 and received $7 million when the Omnicare deal closed. He also is alleged to have directed all of his nursing homes to replace their pharmacy providers with Total.

Morris solicited and received about $800,000 in donations from two part owners of Total for a religious school he built, Nehls claimed. Morris insists the donations weren't a kickback.

Both men deny any wrongdoing.

The trial is set for Aug. 12 in Chicago.

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