Pill Mill Thrill

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Fraudsters get a thrill out of stealing from others. Otherwise, they wouldn’t keep doing it. (The constant source of illegitimate income is also attractive.) A very deceptive Dover, Massachusetts physician got his thrill from running a multi-million-dollar Medicare fraud scam involving a pill mill.

The term “pill mill” describes a physician, medical office, or pharmacy that prescribes or dispenses narcotic medications inappropriately. (You could say that definition accurately describes exactly what today’s fraudster was doing.)

The Dover doctor became criminally famous for prescribing more oxycodone than most hospitals in Massachusetts. Authorities took notice in 2012 when he was considered the eighth highest prescriber of oxycontin in the state. The next year, he was the second highest prescriber of the narcotic. (During that timeframe he basically doubled the number of oxycontin prescriptions per month, which is indicative of illegal drug distribution. He also prescribed other powerful narcotics such as methadone and fentanyl.)

 The doctor, who ran a group of pain management clinics in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, also employed a group of physicians in Cairo, Egypt. They staffed an administrative office overseas where they were responsible for falsely billing insurance agencies for services that were never provided.

The foreign doctors commonly claimed that the doctor saw each patient for 25 minutes or more, when he only spent about five minutes with them and did not provide an examination as claimed. (In reality, the patients waited for hours to see the physician in an overcrowded office, not in an exam room. Sometimes he arrived as much as four hours late to a very crowded waiting room.) The Dover physician also had his Cairo-based co-conspirators improperly bill Medicare for urine drug tests. (This is in spite of him failing to store the samples properly. He also used unreliable equipment to perform the lab tests, rendering the results useless.)

So, what did the doctor do with the more than $8 million he stole from the government healthcare program through Medicare fraud? His multi-million-dollar scheme enabled him to pay for expanding the size of his Dover home by building a movie theater, squash court and a carriage house. (Because everyone needs a carriage house these days. Oh, and by the way, he also purchased real estate in Florida.)

The 62-year-old doctor pleaded guilty to numerous charges of Medicare fraud and money laundering. He was sentenced to eight years in federal prison, three years of supervised release and must pay restitution of $8,725,120. (Somehow this sentence is supposed to compensate for some of his patients who died because they overdosed on large doses of powerful painkillers.) Let’s hope that the sobering reality of today’s case has made an impact on the Dover doctor, bringing his pill mill thrill to a decisive end.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Dover doctor behind ‘pill mill’ gets 8 years in prison, $8.7M restitution order,” posted on MassLive.com on March 22, 2018.

A Dover doctor, who at one time was one of the state’s largest prescribers of opioids — second only to an entire hospital — was sentenced Thursday to eight years in federal prison.

Fathallah Mashali, 62, will also serve three years of supervised release and pay restitution in the amount of $8,725,120, federal prosecutors said in a statement.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.