Five Pennsylvania doctors were charged with unlawfully distributing buprenorphine and defrauding Medicare and Medicaid, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady of the Western District of Pennsylvania, and United States Attorney William J. Powell of the Northern District of West Virginia.
Numerous indictments and charges have come following Attorney General Jeff Sessions announcing the formation of the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, which uses data to target and prosecute individuals that commit opioid-related health care fraud.
The five doctors named in the indictment include:
Dr. Krishan Kumar Aggarwal, 73, of Moon Township, Pennsylvania, a contractor at RTA in Weirton, West Virginia.
Dr. Madhu Aggarwal, 68, of Moon Township, Pennsylvania, a contractor at RTA in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania;
Dr. Parth Bharill, 69, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a contractor at RTA in Morgantown, West Virginia;
Dr. Cherian John, 65, of Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, a contractor at RTA in Weirton, West Virginia; and
Dr. Michael Bummer, 38, of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, a contractor at RTA in Washington, Pennsylvania.
Redirections Treatment Advocates, LLC operates Suboxone clinics in several western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia locations.
According to the indictments, the doctors, working as contractors at the various locations, created and handed out unlawful prescriptions for Subutex and Suboxone, which is a drug used to treat people with addiction.
The defendants are charged with conspiracy to unlawfully distribute buprenorphine, as well as health care fraud for allegedly submitting fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid for payments to cover the costs of the unlawful prescriptions.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday that we are facing the worst drug crisis in American history, with one American dying of a drug overdose every nine minutes.
“It’s incredible but true that some of our trusted medical professionals have chosen to violate their oaths and exploit this crisis for profit. Last summer, I sent a dozen of our top federal prosecutors to focus solely on the problem of opioid-related health care fraud in places where the epidemic was at its worst-including Western Pennsylvania. These cases cut off the supply of drugs and stop fraudsters from exploiting vulnerable people. Our prosecutors began issuing indictments back in October, and today we bring even more charges against those who allegedly defrauded the taxpayer while diverting potentially addictive drugs. I want to thank our dedicated AUSAs Robert Cessar and Sarah Wagner, FBI, DEA, our U.S. Attorneys’ offices, FDA, the HHS and Veterans Affairs Inspectors General, IRS, our Postal Inspectors, and all of our state and local partners for their hard work on these cases,” Sessions said.
U.S. Attorney Brady said expanding the legitimate use of medication to treat addiction is a critical part of the Administration’s multi-faceted approach to combat the opioid epidemic.
“Yet another vital component is the prosecution of unscrupulous practitioners who abuse their privilege to practice medicine and dispense prescriptions unlawfully. These indictments demonstrate that we remain vigilant in our pursuit of physicians who ignore their oath to do no harm,” Brady said.
“We remain unwavering in our efforts to combat those who violate drug laws and thereby contribute to the crisis of addiction. I have made clear that a medical degree provides you no protection from prosecution. We will persevere,” added U.S. Attorney Powell.
Each of the defendants in the case face a maximum of ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each of the three counts they all face.
Assistant United States Attorney Robert S. Cessar of the Western District of Pennsylvania and Assistant United States Attorney Sarah E. Wagner of the Northern District of West Virginia are prosecuting these cases on behalf of the United States.