Federal agents raid Sunshine Pharmacy, letter points to Medicare fraud probe

Members of Collier County Sheriffs Office respond at the Sunshine Pharmacy after a raid was conducted earlier in the day Thursday, Jan. 17, 2012, in Naples, Fla. The Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confiscated boxes of evidence and computers from the business. Collier County Narcotics team helped in assisting with the operation. Details are unknown why the officers arrived but stayed for about 30 minutes asking questions to those working inside. Federal investigators have not released details for the said raid either. The unidentified woman was unharmed as she cooperatively opened the door for the deputies.

Photo by COREY PERRINE, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo

Members of Collier County Sheriffs Office respond at the Sunshine Pharmacy after a raid was conducted earlier in the day Thursday, Jan. 17, 2012, in Naples, Fla. The Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confiscated boxes of evidence and computers from the business. Collier County Narcotics team helped in assisting with the operation. Details are unknown why the officers arrived but stayed for about 30 minutes asking questions to those working inside. Federal investigators have not released details for the said raid either. The unidentified woman was unharmed as she cooperatively opened the door for the deputies.

Video from NBC-2

— Federal authorities spent Thursday at Sunshine Solutions and Pharmacy in East Naples removing documents in an apparent investigation of potential Medicare fraud on behalf of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and its diversion program was conducting the on-site investigation at 5482 Rattlesnake Hammock Road, Collier County sheriff's spokeswoman Karie Partington said.

Authorities also searched a silver Toyota parked in the shopping center, according to Maryann Steiginga, who works at a nearby Domino's Pizza and witnessed the activity throughout the day. She said authorities were at Sunshine when she arrived for work at 10:30 a.m.

"All I know is they had a bunch of federal agents and searched a car and were inside," she said. "They came with a U-haul and took files and (stuff) in black trash bags."

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid was informed by the Office of the Inspector General of allegations that Sunshine owner Del Parrish and his mother, Patricia Parrish, had been engaged in a scheme to defraud Medicare, according to an Oct. 17 letter CMS sent to Medicare Part D providers that was obtained by the Daily News.

"A preliminary investigation revealed that Del Parrish and his mother have submitted claims to Medicare for beneficiaries after their date of death, and a multitude of non-controlled medications that includes Megace," the letter said of the synthetic derivative of a steroid hormone.

In addition, Parrish and his mother may have submitted claims to Medicaid and Tricare, the insurance for military members, that weren't dispensed, in addition to other illegal narcotic related activities, the letter said.

The allegations were reported to investigating authorities "on behalf of former and current employees," according to the letter.

The CMS official with the Medicare Program Integrity Group who wrote the letter was advising Medicare Part D providers to take appropriate actions regarding the pharmacy.

Del Parrish, 43, also operates Gulfshore Pharmacy at 421 U.S. 41 N. and Sunshine Pharmacy at 6350 Davis Blvd. All three locations, including the Rattlesnake Hammock pharmacy, are engaged in the scheme to defraud Medicare, according to the letter.

Collier sheriff's patrol cars came to and left the Rattlesnake Hammock shopping center late in the afternoon, with four patrol cars stationed there at 5 p.m. A man who appeared to be Parrish came to the door of the pharmacy and was frisked by officers before he went back inside the pharmacy.

The Parrishes couldn't be reached for comment Thursday evening.

At least one person among the handful who watched the events was dismayed.

"I've been doing business with Sunshine for years," said Terry Anderson, who lives nearby. "Del, the owner, he would help me. He's an upstanding man. Oh God, my heart is breaking but I don't know what is going on. These people have been in this town for so long."

Staff Writer Aisling Swift contributed to this report.

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