HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — A Houston pharmacy CEO accused of bilking Medicare out of $134 million to support his Instagram-worthy lifestyle will be able to spend his days before trial under house arrest in his $2 million dollar home.
A federal judge granted bond for Mohamed Mokbel Thursday, under some very strict conditions.
Mokbel has to come up with $250,000 for a secured bond and will have to wear an ankle monitor. He will be under house arrest unless he’s leaving to go to work, visit his attorneys, doctors’ visits or other approved reasons.
Mokbel was known in his Afton Oaks neighborhood as the man with a Ferrari and a Bentley parked in the driveway. Neighbors called police numerous times for loud partying. However, just about everyone was surprised when federal authorities raided his home early Tuesday morning.
Mokbel, wearing a Fendi cat-eye shirt, was marched out of his house in handcuffs and sent to federal detention.
In his court hearing on Thursday, the pharmacy executive was wearing a federal detention jumpsuit instead of his usual designer duds. He sat quietly as his attorney, Charles Flood, worked to earn his bond.
Prosecutors tried to paint him as a flight risk, at one point calling him a criminal mastermind since the 1990s. Mokbel was previously indicted on a baby formula relabeling case almost 20 years ago, which he was eventually found not guilty.
Besides talking about his previous legal problems, prosecutors also pointed out that Mokbel had numerous bank accounts. They said that when the house was raided, agents found $32,000 in gift cards, $100,000 worth of casino chips hidden in coat pockets and that he owned a 12-story building in Egypt.
But the judge did not agree that Mokbel needed to be locked up. He said factors like Mokbel staying in town during his previous legal problems, the fact that he is a U.S. citizen, and that he has a small child, all contributed to his decision to grant a very restrictive bond.
“The judge said it’s not illegal to be wealthy, to be successful,” said Flood, who spent most of the afternoon trying to secure the bail money after feds froze most of Mokbel’s bank assets.
“They had real clients, they were giving them real diabetic medication,” said Flood, who painted the investigation as more of an effort to drive out small, independent pharmacies. “The big chains don’t like him. He undercuts them and sends [the medication] to the door.”
A number of his employees and friends supported Mokbel in court today. When approached by ABC13, all denied knowing him and said they were not in court, even though they were seen sitting in the guest sections.
The pharmacy operation in question, 4M Pharmaceuticals, remains open in Houston with 70 to 90 employees.
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