Atlanta pharmacy owners convicted in WIC fraud scheme

The owners of an Atlanta pharmacy illegally purchased food vouchers intended for low-income women and at-risk children then fraudulently sought reimbursement from the federal government as if they had provided food in exchange for the vouchers, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a press release.

Siblings Pauline Mediko Badiki, 55, and Ferdinand Mediko, 57, were convicted Thursday of conspiracy, and 12 counts each of wire fraud, theft of government funds and defrauding  the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as the WIC program.

Ferdinand Mediko’s wife, Monica, worked as a pharmacy technician at the business and was also convicted in the scheme, which netted $6.5 million compared to $1.3 million in actual expenses for food and infant formula, according to U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.

“The defendants bought vouchers from low-income recipients and sought refunds from the federal government at a significant profit instead of providing the nutritious foods to infants and children listed on the vouchers,” Pak said in a prepared statement.

According to federal officials, the siblings owned and operated Poly-Plex Pharmacy, located in the Bankhead area of Atlanta. In 2005, the business became an authorized vendor of the WIC program, which provides food to low-income pregnant women and children up to age five.


WIC recipients receive benefits in the form of paper vouchers, which can be exchanged for foods listed on the voucher at authorized vendors.

Badiki and the Medikos received training on the WIC program rules, including the prohibition of buying vouchers, when they became authorized vendors, officials said.

Between 2009 and June 2013, the trio purchased WIC vouchers from low-income mothers for a fraction of their value instead of providing the infant formula and food listed on the vouchers, federal officials said.

Officials said they then deposited the funds into their bank accounts as if they provided WIC recipients with the foods listed on the vouchers, and were reimbursed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

During the scheme, the siblings deposited “tens of thousands of WIC vouchers.”

Sentencing for Badiki, Ferdinand Mediko, and Monca Mediko has not been scheduled.

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