When you think of a drug dealer, what kind of image comes to mind? It’s not always a scary looking dude with tattoos from the bad side of town. A doctor from Anchorage, Alaska is one of the latest bonafide drug dealers to be convicted in a Medicaid fraud scheme that involved overprescribing opioids. (Let’s just say that patients who visited his office got way more than just a check-up.)
The Alaskan doctor forfeited his medical license when investigators discovered that he had intentionally distributed controlled substances for nearly three years without a legitimate medical reason. To be specific, he issued 465 prescriptions for meperidine (more commonly known as Demerol), a Schedule II controlled substance, knowing that his patients did not need the pills. (Apparently, abuse of this opioid is similar to that of morphine.)
Thirty patients who received a total of 32,109 pills gave those pills back to the doctor (or bonafide drug dealer) in exchange for prescriptions for other controlled substances such as fentanyl and oxycodone. (Those 32,109 pills each had a street value of $6 per pill, which allowed the doc to pocket about $192,654.) Based on 790 prescriptions issued by the doctor, Medicaid paid $3,287.98 to his medical practice and $3,601.52 to the pharmacies who filled the prescriptions.
Investigators also found that the doctor did not have accurate records for nearly 800 prescriptions for the controlled substances. (For five of his patients who received prescriptions for controlled substances, there were no medical records at all.)
While the bonafide drug dealer has pleaded guilty to committing Medicaid fraud and leading a drug conspiracy, the 67-year-old doctor has yet to be sentenced. (Definitely old enough to know better.) He currently faces a maximum of four years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit controlled substance fraud. He also faces a maximum of 10 years behind bars, another $250,000 fine and more years of supervised release for healthcare fraud. The plea deal he struck could require him to pay additional fines, including $6,888.39 in restitution to Medicaid. (That’s it? What about taking responsibility for contributing to his patients’ addiction to opioids?)
Straight A students, bored housewives and professionals with stable careers have been known to sell drugs too, whether or not they use them. Today’s fraud article doesn’t indicate whether the Alaskan doctor was a drug abuser, but it points out that even those whom we trust to protect our health can unfortunately also be responsible for causing harm.
Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, “Alaska doctor pleads guilty to health care fraud in $200K drug conspiracy,” posted on KTVA.com on July 30, 2019.
After losing his medical license, an Alaska doctor has pleaded guilty to spearheading a drug conspiracy involving overprescribing dozens of patients, nonexistent records for a handful of others and nearly $200,000 worth of opioids.
Michael Don Robertson, 67, reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors, agreeing to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit controlled substance fraud as well as health care fraud while practicing in Alaska.