The Hattiesburg businessman who was indicted for fraudulently taking government funds through TRICARE, the government’s health benefits program for veterans, plead guilty last week to two new charges that were not on his initial indictment.
Wade Walters, 53, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He faces up to 20 years in prison and $500,000 in fines, and is responsible for making restitution on the money that was taken.
Because the new charges were part of a plea agreement, the guilty plea will not necessitate Walters’s trial continuing.
Walters was originally charged in September on 37 counts after spearheading more than $510 million in health care fraud through compounded pain creams, vitamin pills and weight-loss pills that were bill to TRICARE.
Rather than writing a prescription for each medication – which cost approximately $11,000-$14,000 per pain cream prescription – Walters allegedly distributed preprinted prescription pads to maximize profit. Refills were sent to patients automatically.
Walters has been tied to other cases around the country, including one in California, in which one of his businesses in Utah pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. His original charges included, but were not limited to, wire fraud, money laundering, payments to non-licensed physicians, and major fraud against the United States government.
The investigation into the case is ongoing, and additional people could be charged in Mississippi and other states.