Arkansas doctor sentenced to eight years in federal prison

LITTLE ROCK—An Arkansas doctor at the heart of a $12 million scheme to defraud TRICARE will spend the next 102 months in federal prison. Earlier today, United States District Judge Kristine G. Baker sentenced Joe David May, a.k.a. Jay May, 42, of Alexander, to 102 months’ imprisonment and ordered him to pay more than $4.63 million in restitution to TRICARE, the health insurer for our nation’s military.

A 2020 indictment charged May with twenty-two counts, including conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, violating the anti-kickback statute, lying to the FBI, falsifying records, and aggravated identity theft. After a six-day trial in June 2022, a jury convicted May on all twenty-two counts.

Proof at trial showed May stood at the center of a bogus prescription-drug assembly line and, later, went to great lengths in a failed bid to cover it up.

As part of the scheme, recruiters found military personnel and veterans with TRICARE and filled out prescriptions for compounded drugs in their names—selecting which drugs to supply (usually the most expensive) and how many refills to authorize. All that was missing were prescriber signatures. So, middlemen routed the pre-filled prescriptions to medical professionals, like May, to be rubber stamped without consulting the ‘patient’ or any regard for whether drugs were needed.  TRICARE paid over $12 million for prescriptions generated in this scheme, part of a wave of fraudulent schemes around the country that saw TRICARE spend over $2 billion for compounded prescription drugs in 2015.

In exchange for thousands in cash kickbacks, May rubber stamped 226 prescriptions for which TRICARE paid over $4.63 million. All but one of his prescriptions were for ‘patients’ May did not know, never treated, and knew nothing about.

Following the execution of search warrants at compounding pharmacies around the country, May visited the FBI to answer questions about his prescriptions. May lied by claiming he only signed prescriptions for people he evaluated and denying he received kickbacks. Obstruction continued when May got a subpoena for prescriptions and related ‘patient’ records. May turned over but a fraction of the prescriptions he signed and fabricated medical records to make it seem like the drug recipients were really his patients. Finally, as trial approached, May tried to mischaracterize a $5,000 cash kickback as Oaklawn winnings from the 2015 Arkansas Derby.

All nine of May’s co-conspirators pled guilty to conspiracy and elected to cooperate with federal law enforcement, with several testifying at trial. All but one co-conspirator has been sentenced:

Through the prosecution of May and his nine co-conspirators, the United States has recovered nearly $8 million in restitution, forfeiture, and fines.

“Our healthcare system is built on trust, and those who abuse it do so at their peril,” said Jonathan D. Ross, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. “Dr. May accepted kickbacks, cheated TRICARE, and tried to deceive federal agents investigating his crimes. Now, he will trade hospital scrubs for a prison uniform. Let his case serve as a warning to others in the medical industry. Our office and our partners at the FBI and HHS-OIG are committed to rooting out anyone who succumbs to the temptation of ‘easy money.’”

“By defrauding TRICARE, Dr. May stole from our service men and women, military retirees, and their families. He robbed Americans who had sworn an oath to defend our nation, and he pickpocketed American taxpayers,” said FBI Little Rock Special Agent in Charge James A. Dawson. “Today’s sentencing induces accountability, and demonstrates there is no place in our society for the behavior exhibited by Dr. May. The FBI and its partners will continue to aggressively investigate those who undermine the integrity of our nation’s healthcare system.”

“Federal healthcare programs rely on the honesty and integrity of doctors to prescribe medically necessary medications to their patients,” said Special Agent in Charge Jason E. Meadows of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. “On the contrary, Dr. May signed pre-filled prescriptions filled out by a pharmaceutical rep for patients he had no doctor-patient relationship with and all on the backs of the American taxpayer. HHS-OIG is laser-focused on investigating doctors and other medical professionals who lie, cheat, and steal from American taxpayers for their own personal benefit, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to hold them accountable.”

In addition to the 102-month prison sentence, Judge Baker sentenced May to three years’ of supervised release following imprisonment. May was also ordered to pay more than $4.63 million in restitution and a $2,200 special assessment. The investigation was conducted by the FBI and HHS-OIG. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Alexander D. Morgan and Stephanie G. Mazzanti.

Press Release


  1. Stephanie Mazzanti is a piece of crap. She loves to prosecute even the innocent. She should be investigated herself.

  2. I guess my little contribution wasn’t big enough to notice. A Jonesboro “hospital” harvested a million or more on me, just one patient, by drugging me and holding me while pumping me full of drugs to make me look crazy. (I was in the hospital because of kidney failure caused by a previous medical error). No way to talk to insurance company, lawyers don’t want to hear about actual crimes by doctors, hospitals don’t care either – except to threaten to sue me for talking about them.

    • I believe you. In today’s society, there are no good physicians. Look for lawyers in California, that will represent your state. I am in the process of suing the VA.

  3. I’m FURIOUS!!! As a TICARE recipient I can tell you …ALL TRICARE wants is the $$$$ they don’t give 2 shits about Veterans!!!! I can no longer find a local pharmacy to take tricare bc they put the screws to them!! My pharmacist personally told me that (in a much more tactful way, I may add). I had used that pharmacy literally my entire life, then had to find a new pharmacy that would accept tricare bc tricare was causing them such a financial loss. THEN after I found a local pharmacy to accept, the pharmacist complained to me about tricare every time I went In and literally told me “the only reason I still accept tricare is for the veterans and I don’t know how much longer I financially do it”… I am SO embarrassed now to say “I have tricare” I had much rather say “I have Medicaid” I literally have to drive a 2 hour round trip to a pharmacy that STILL accepts tricare and as a single mom, when you have a sick kiddo that needs meds… what a toll…so much of the time anymore I just use goodrx on my scripts just to avoid the scrutiny AND many times it ends up being cheaper than my tricare copay… “He robbed Americans who had sworn an oath to defend our nation, and he pickpocketed American taxpayers” HE???? HAHA!!! TRICARE IS DOING THIS!!!! what a shame… just a bit funny to me that all the pharmacies and MANY healthcare facilities (that’s a whole other rant for another day) are denying tricare and veterans are complaining and going with out needed medications THEN all of a sudden the spot light is put on some local Doctor!?!?!? of course they are going after him the hardest bc he has MD behind his name!! $$$$$ Dr. May the SCAPEGOAT… I’ve heard he is an excellent doctor, saved countless lives… his community that he served is the one taking the ultimate loss…

    • I believe you. I can’t even go to the Dermatologist that I have had for years because Tricare did not pay my bills, it was put on my credit report. I had to go through so much mental anguish, so many time to get other bills paid also. I was told Tricare is losing their contract with the military, but is still responsible for so many bills they were paid to pay but haven’t yet.

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