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EX-PHARMACIST GETS 4 YEARS ON FEDERAL FRAUD CHARGES

Former city pharmacist Anthony T. Rizzo was sentenced Friday to four years in prison and ordered to pay $1.3 million in restitution on federal fraud charges.

Rizzo was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Buffalo by Judge Richard J. Arcara on five counts of health care fraud and one count each of wire fraud and money laundering. Rizzo had pleaded guilty to the charges Nov. 1.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney John Rogowski, Rizzo will have a quarter of that time tacked onto his state sentence for Medicaid fraud.

"Thirty-six of those (months) are to be concurrent with his New York State sentence for a similar type fraud, and 12 months to be served consecutive," Rogowski said. "Judge Arcara in imposing the sentence felt that the fact he committed a federal crime merited some extra jail time."

At the time of his plea, Rizzo agreed to forfeit his Union Pharmacy on Allen Street, his share of a home in the city, a bank account and a car.

"The federal government has seized some of the defense property to the value of about $250,000 to put towards the restitution, so the victims will receive some money back towards their losses," Rogowski said.

Rizzo's attorney, John Molloy of West Seneca, said Friday that he had asked for concurrent sentences but thought the sentence was fair.

In the federal case, Rizzo had been accused of defrauding the city of Jamestown, its Board of Public Utilities, Crawford Furniture, Hope's Architectural Products, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield out of approximately $3 million. In the plea, Rogowski indicated he admitted to bilking them out of $117,000.

In addition, prosecutors said Rizzo admitted defrauding several pharmaceutical manufacturers of about $1.2 million by buying prescription drugs at well below typical wholesale prices, as well as falsely claiming to operate nursing homes so he could buy low-cost drugs.

Rizzo was sentenced in September 1998 to 6 2/3 to 20 years in state prison by Chautauqua County Court Judge John T. Ward. He had been found guilty by a jury the previous month on 14 counts, including grand larceny, attempted grand larceny and scheming to defraud.

At the time, the $1.3 million Medicaid fraud case was believed to be the biggest in Western New York history.

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