CINCINNATI -- The owner of a local discount drug service pleaded guilty Monday to fraud charges that claimed he stole money from his customers' bank accounts.
In September, 35-year-old Thomas Fenske was accused of failing to provide refunds and taking an unfair advantage of several customers, including the elderly and low-income.
The plea agreement came shortly after a joint force investigation, according to Fred Alverson, spokesman for US Attorney Carter Stewart.
Fenske operated Queen City Script Care as a business where qualified people could get prescription drugs for a reduced cost, or free of charge through assistance programs. He and his staff recruited hundreds of customers at senior health fairs and communities, Alverson said.
Many of the Queen City Script Care customers were on a fixed income, had trouble paying for prescription drugs and had high prescription costs for the medicines they needed.
Upon becoming a customer of Queen City Script Care, each person was required to pay an initial fee and a monthly fee. Alverson said the monthly payment ranged from $30 - $50, and was taken from each bank account through an automatic withdrawal.
In court on Monday, Fenske admitted to giving customers a false idea that they could cancel their membership whenever they chose, and that they could receive a refund if they did not qualify for assistance or if they did not receive their medication.
Without them knowing, Fenske took money from the customers' bank accounts on several occasions, he admitted in court. According to court documents, between 50 and 250 customers were affected, and the debit transactions totaled between $30,000 and $70,000.
According to the plea agreement, Fenske could spend up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud. Fenske may also be ordered to pay restitution to the customers he stole from.
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