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Chestnut Hill pharmacist moves on with his life after insurance fraud investigation

Carl Dean dons a pastel yellow checkered dress shirt, khakis and looks like your father clean shaven, wearing spectacles with short trimmed light brown hair. He leans over the counter at the Chestnut Hill Pharmacy where he greets customers with a genuine smile.

Things are better for him now that the charges of insurance fraud are behind him. In November, Dean reached a settlement with Montgomery County prosecutors to two-years of probation and to pay back $86,000 to an insurance company. In December, he was charged with submitting fraudulent prescriptions to Independence Blue Cross from 2007-2009 when he operated a Blue Bell pharmacy on Dekalb Pike. No charges stem from his work in Chestnut Hill.

Dean is also required to perform 500 hours of community service through Montgomery County’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program reserved for first time non-violent offenders and paid $1,966 in court costs. The ARD program is only used at the bequest of the district attorney’s office, not a judge ruling. Dean has also paid back $86,000 that he fraudulently billed the insurance company.

The Montgomery County district attorney’s office could not be reached for comment about their decision in the case.

But his employer Mark Lawson has stuck by Dean, and has continued to let him work at the Chestnut Hill Pharmacy throughout the investigation.

Lawson said Deans actions are dwarfed by what he calls “business as usual” for large corporations like CVS, and Walgreens. Lawson declined an interview saying that Deans’ case was about “audit discrepancies” not fraud.

Instead he submitted a few statements. Lawson pointed to a recent five million dollar settlement CVS Caremark made with the Federal Trade Commission for inflated prescription drug prices at CVS and Walgreens pharmacies. The case decision by the commission is open to public comment until February 13.

“Had it been a small independent pharmacy, we would easily be looking at jail time.” he wrote in a recent email.  “Instead taxpayers are “OK” with this misuse and direct abuse of their dollars as long as they get some money back,” stated Lawson.

Independence Blue Cross, the insurance provider claims that Dean funneled $86,070 in forged prescriptions by thirteen different doctors in the area. Court records indicate Dean used his daughters, wife, and even his own name in fake prescriptions where drugs were never dispensed.

Blue Cross Spokeswoman Lisa Yoon, spokesperson said what is unusual about Dean’s case is that he was quick to repay. “Restitution is usually court-ordered; it’s not usually made before sentencing.”

On their website, the Dean story is listed under real life cases of insurance fraud.

Carl Dean declined an interview for this story.

Dean’s lawyer, William Winning said that the case is closed. “He paid back every penny even before he was charged,” said Winning. He called the suit a “one time mistake (by Dean)” and said that the pharmacist can be trusted working at another pharmacy.

“There shouldn’t be any concerns about that there, Mr. Dean has an otherwise spotless and impeccable record; He repaid all the money, he paid his price to the community and society,” he said.

After two years of the ARD, Dean will have the option to have his criminal record expunged of the charges.

And customers seem to agree. Local supporters of Dean say they trust his judgement and know that he cares about the unique touch that an independent pharmacy can provide.

Marvella Harper, of Mt Airy said she heard about the pharmacy from her physical therapist. She said she stopped in one day to buy a compression sock and was convinced by the service to switch her prescriptions and never looked back.

“They’re very knowledgeable, I just like them better than the bigger pharmacy,” Harper said. Unfortunately what he did was wrong, but I’m going to still come here because I like it,” she added.

Terry Clark of Chestnut Hill agrees. “I’m not treated like a number, it’s not mechanized, and I’m very happy with the attention,” she said explaining that she would give Dean another chance.

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