Powell excluded from Medicare

Sunday, February 29, 2004

MOBILE, Ala. - Richard Powell, the man behind the troubled Respiratory Distributors and Respiratory Druggist, has been excluded from doing business with Medicare for 18 years, according to the attorney who helped him negotiate a settlement with the government.

“Mr. Powell is pursuing other business opportunities unrelated to health care,” said Jeff Baird of Brown & Fortunato in Amarillo, Texas.

Sun Capital Partners, a Boca, Raton, Fla., private investment firm that specializes in “underperformers, turnarounds and special situations,” recently bought 100% of RDI-Distributors (See related story this page).

RDI made headlines in 2001 when Powell was sentenced to one year and a day in prison for his role in a scheme to defraud Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceutical. The Department of Justice (DOJ) had charged Powell with mail and wire fraud, and ordered him to pay $687,000 in restitution.

In addition, RDI-Druggist was sentenced to five years probation. The DOJ had charged Druggist with paying kickbacks and filing false claims and ordered the company to pay $105,000 in restitution.

Because Powell, individually, did not plead guilty to violating anti-kickback statues or filing false claims, it was unclear at the time whether he would have a hand in RDI-Distributors after his incarceration.

Marty McClantoc, who has been running RDI-Distributors since May 2001, said the company is ready to leave the past behind.

“We have strengthened our balance sheet greatly, and although our financials will remain confidential, I can tell you we have over 80 employees and thousands of customers,” he said.

Benjamin Emmons, a vice president for Sun, agreed. He refused to talk about Powell, but he said RDI is now primed to grow its business.

“The company had experienced significant growth, but it had reached a limit in its development,” he said. “Our financial resources will allow the company to continue its development.”

Emmons said Sun’s plans for RDI include broadening its product line to make it a one-stop shop for respiratory medications and products. The firm’s plans do not include shaking up RDI’s management, he said.

Although Sun’s acquisition of RDI is the firm’s first foray into the healthcare industry, it has invested in more than 60 companies with combined revenues of more than $8 billion since its inception in 1995.