It’s no secret that our nation is currently enduring a very serious opioid crisis. Over the past several months, the Allegiant Experts Blog has committed many an entry to this unfortunate circumstance. Opioids are killing Americans at an alarming rate. Far too often, drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and fentanyl are being obtained illegally. Their abuse has led to numerous overdoses. Needless to say, law officials are hard at work to put an end to the crisis.

The problem, however, is that far too many members of the medical community are worsening the situation. Putting personal profit over the health of their patients and other members of their communities, medical professionals are illegally prescribing opioids at a pace that is hard to keep up with.

However, not everyone is getting away with their criminal activity.

50 year-old, Jennifer Hess of Washington, Pennsylvania is among the most recent perpetrators of health care fraud to be taken down. As reported by the Western District of Pennsylvania branch of the United States Department of Justice, Hess has pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of aiding and abetting the unlawful distribution of controlled substances and health care fraud.

According to the DoJ report, Hess was the founder and owner of an opioid treatment practice called Redirections Treatment Advocates LLC (RTA). The clinic had offices in Washington and Bridgeville, Pennsylvania as well as Morgantown, Weirton and Moundsville, West Virginia. While running the treatment center for those with opioid addictions, Hess performed another service – aiding and abetting the illegal distribution of buprenorphine.

What is buprenorphine?

Also known as Subutex and Suboxone, buprenorphine is an opioid medication which is used to treat pain and opioid addiction. When used to treat pain, buprenorphine can be given in the form of a patch that is applied to the skin. It is known to provide pain relief for at least seven days.

“Unlike methadone treatment, which must be performed in a highly structured clinic, buprenorphine is the first medication to treat opioid dependency that is permitted to be prescribed or dispensed in physician offices, significantly increasing treatment access,” explains the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 (DATA 2000), qualified U.S. physicians can offer buprenorphine for opioid dependency in various settings, including in an office, community hospital, health department, or correctional facility.”

Hess completed blank pre-signed prescriptions.

She also forged doctor’s names on blank prescriptions in order to distribute the drugs. In addition, the DoJ report informs us that Hess committed health care fraud by causing fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicaid and Medicare for payments to cover the costs of the unlawfully prescribed buprenorphine. She is currently scheduled to be sentenced on October 30, 2019.

She faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1,250,000.00. “Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant,” notes the report.

Are you an attorney who is currently trying a health care fraud case?

Please don’t hesitate to contact Allegiant Experts to find out how our clinical expertise may help your case. Give us a call at 407-217-5831 or email us at info@allegiantexperts.com.