Texas pharmacist representing himself in fraud case

May 29, 2014

A former West El Paso, Texas pharmacist will represent himself in a retrial on charges he fraudulently billed insurers for prescriptions never dispensed and sold drugs to an undercover federal agent, according to a published report.

A former West El Paso, Texas pharmacist will represent himself in a retrial on charges he fraudulently billed insurers for prescriptions never dispensed and sold drugs to an undercover federal agent, according to a published report.

Peter Victor Ayika, 58, who plead guilty to the charges in 2012, successfully filed his own appeal. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the judge in Ayika’s original trial improperly participated in plea negotiations. His case has been assigned to a new judge, but no trial date has been set. Ayika is in a federal prison in Anthony, Texas.

Subsequently, a court ruled that Ayika could represent himself during the new trial and allowed his court-appointed attorney to remain on the case as stand-by counsel.

In 2012, Ayika was sentenced to 63 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges he submitted fraudulent bills to Medicaid, the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program, and private insurers for medicines never dispensed. He was also ordered to pay $2.5 million in restitution.

Separately, a jury convicted Ayika of possession with intent to distribute hydrocodone by a practitioner and of selling pseudoephedrine to an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

 

The appeals court vacated Ayika’s guilty plea based on claims the judge advised him that pleading guilty "is your chance to cut your losses short."

The judge also reportedly told Ayika’s lawyer, "the best chance here, quite frankly, for him is the plea of guilty and the concurrent sentencing."

In his appeal, Ayika said he was willing to plead guilty, but told the judge he wasn’t willing to admit that the amount of the fraud was more than $1 million.