A federal appeals court Monday upheld the convictions of two South Florida men in a fraud scheme that involved collecting $31 million from federal health-care programs. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments by Serge Francois and Patrick Tonge, who were convicted in 2017 of numerous charges including health-care fraud and paying kickbacks. Francois was the owner of Atlantic Pharmacy & Compounding, which made compound prescription creams, according to Monday’s ruling. Tongue, identified by the court as Francois’ former used-car dealer and personal trainer, was hired as manager despite having no pharmaceutical training. The business collected more than $31 million in claims from the TRICARE military health program and the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. The claims were submitted through Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefit manager. The appeals court, in part, rejected arguments by Francois and Tonge that prosecutors had insufficient evidence to convict them. “First, the prosecution produced evidence that Atlantic was admitted to Express Scripts’ network and received a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) registration solely based on Francois’ misrepresentations about himself and his pharmacy,” said the ruling by Judges Elizabeth Branch, Britt Grant and Andrew Brasher. “Were those misrepresentations never made, Atlantic would have been foreclosed from filing a single fraudulent CPC (compound prescription cream) claim. Francois told the government that his sister owned Atlantic, that his DEA license had never been suspended, that he had never filed for bankruptcy or been arrested, and that Atlantic had never paid more than $25,000 to a subcontractor. Every one of these representations was false. In fact, Francois owned Atlantic, his DEA license had been suspended, he had previously been arrested and filed for bankruptcy, and Atlantic had paid millions of dollars to subcontractors as part of its efforts to market its products.” Also, the ruling said the jury “was presented sufficient evidence to conclude that Tonge and Francois knew the prescriptions underlying Atlantic’s CPC claims were invalid and the fruit of a complex system of healthcare kickbacks.” A 2018 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Francois was sentenced to 204 months in prison, while Tonge was sentenced to 188 months. It said both men were from Southwest Ranches.