Paula Pennington de la Bretonne‘s son to pay $10.7M after pleading guilty in health care fraud case

A federal judge in New Orleans has set an Aug. 11 sentencing date for Baton Rouge resident Christopher Blackstone and two New Orleans-area co-defendants, who pleaded guilty earlier this spring to conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Blackstone, 43, is the son of Pennington heiress and philanthropist Paula Pennington de la Bretonne.

According to court documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District, Blackstone and his co-defendants, Joseph Campo and Mario Deluca, engaged in a scheme from March 2014 to October 2016 through a Slidell-based specialty pharmacy Blackstone owned—Prime Pharmacy Solutions—that bilked a health care benefits company out of nearly $15 million.

The company, TRICARE, provides health care benefits primarily to military personnel and their families.

According to court documents, Deluca, the pharmacy’s IT executive, developed software that determined which specialty medications would yield the highest reimbursement rates from TRICARE, regardless of whether those formulas were the most appropriate or most needed by patients. 

Blackstone and the others then mass produced these high-yield specialty medications through Prime Pharmacy Solutions, creating a series of preprinted prescription forms that encouraged and directed providers to prescribe them to patients insured through TRICARE. 

Blackstone pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in late February. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years supervised release following any term of imprisonment. He has agreed to pay nearly $10.7 million in restitution to TRICARE.