We all know that health care fraud is a serious crime. However, there are still far too many people involved in the medical industry who consider it a crime worth committing. Thankfully, as the Allegiant Experts Blog has shown over the years, health care fraud is a crime that doesn’t always pay. Just ask the two physicians who were brought to justice over the past week for illegally distributing drugs.
Dr. Brian James August of El Paso, Texas has been indicted.
As reported by the Western District of Texas branch of the United States Department of Justice, the 60 year-old was indicted for distributing controlled substances and health care fraud. August’s actions, in fact, have had tragic consequences. They resulted in five deaths due to overdose.
As the DoJ details, August is charged with five counts of distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death or serious bodily injury. He is also charged with five counts of distribution of a controlled substance and five counts of health care fraud resulting in death. If convicted, he will face 20 years to life in federal prison for the drug charges resulting in death. He will also face up to 20 years in federal prison for each of the remaining drug charges as well as life in federal prison for each of the health care fraud charges.
August practiced Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, which is also known as “physiatry”.
It is alleged that between December 2012 and March 2018, he prescribed and dispensed controlled substances. They included methadone, fentanyl, hydromorphone, morphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone.
These prescriptions were made outside of the usual course of medical practice and without legitimate medical purpose. In addition to the five deaths resulting from these prescriptions, August is also alleged to have committed health care fraud by billing for services he did not perform.
Dr. Sriramloo Kesari of Charleston, West Virginia has been convicted.
The 78 year-old physician is paying the price for prescribing a buprenorphine product in violation of the Controlled Substances Act. As the United States Department of Justice reports, evidence presented at trial showed that Kesari distributed the drug Suboxone outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
The DoJ notes that Kesari operated a cash-only operation. He would sign prescriptions that his employee would distribute in exchange for cash payments. “Although Suboxone is approved as a drug for treating opioid addiction, Kesari provided no meaningful addiction treatment and instead, prescribed Suboxone to an undercover DEA agent who was demonstrating clear signs that the Suboxone was being diverted or sold on the street,” the DoJ reports.
Sentencing for Kesari is scheduled for August 25th. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Are you an attorney who is currently working a health care fraud case?
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