Published: Sun, July 01, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Feds charge 600 people in $2 billion opioid fraud

Feds charge 600 people in $2 billion opioid fraud

The U.S. Justice Department has announced charges against more than 600 people, including doctors, for taking part in health care frauds. They include 76 doctors, 23 pharmacists, 19 nurses, and other medical workers.

Seven people in Nebraska were among 601 people charged nationwide in a Justice Department crackdown on health care fraud.

Of those charged, 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and risky narcotics. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the epidemic caused more than 42,000 deaths from opioid overdoses in the United States in 2016.

That includes 124 people in South Florida.

Prosecutors said former hospital owner Michael Drobot spearheaded the scheme, which involved more than $40 million in illegal kickbacks paid to doctors and medical professionals over 15 years in return for referring thousands of patients who received surgeries and other services.

The indictment charges Irena Shut, 41, an attorney who lives in Hidden Hills, with paying kickbacks to two podiatrists to authorize prescriptions written on pre-printed prescription pads created to maximize insurance payments, regardless of the medical need for an expensive compounded formulary for each "patient".

This was the largest fraud enforcement action taken in the history of the Department of Justice, according to a news release.

The U.S. Attorney's Office, through separate informations filed in U.S. District Court, and all with associated plea agreements charged Global Operations Manager JEFFREY SOUTH, District Manager ANGIE NELSON, sales representatives RODDRICK BOYKIN and DAWN WHITTEN, and biller STACEY CARDOZO.

Peresiper, a medical clinic business manager, was charged with conspiracy to pay health care kickbacks related to Pulmonary Solutions and Multi Care Medical NY, both in Brooklyn.

"These individuals rob this nation of its precious taxpayer dollars", said FBI Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Perrye K. Turner.

Yesdel Acosta and Eduardo Chinea-Martinez were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, 16 counts of health care fraud, 13 counts of theft from a health care benefit program, 13 counts aggravated identity theft, 10 counts of money laundering and four counts of mail fraud. They were all participants in fraud schemes, which resulted in the Department of health lost more than $ 2 billion.

In the Los Angeles-based Central District, most of the medical professionals were charged with schemes to defraud health insurance programs such as Medicare.

Since last July, HHS has barred 2,700 people from participating in federal healthcare programs, including 587 providers charged with opioid diversion and abuse.

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