Federal Crime Attorneys Serving Pittsburgh & Philadelphia
A pill mill is a medical office that illegally over prescribes medications such as opioids and other pain pills. They are usually owned and operated by a doctor, physician or healthcare organization but can be seen by authorities as really thinly veiled drug houses. Due to the recent opioid crisis in our country the FDA, DOJ, FBI and DEA have launched massive crackdowns on these types of operations across the country including Pennsylvania. If you are facing charges or are under federal indictment for fraud, healthcare fraud, compounding pharmacy fraud and other crimes contact our Pennsylvania pill mill lawyers.
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Pennsylvania Pill Mill Indictment Cases
Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Five Pittsburgh-area doctors doled out Suboxone to addicts for cash at addiction clinics in Washington County and West Virginia where they worked as contract employees, according to federal investigators.
Indictments unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh and in West Virginia named Krishan Aggarwal, 73, and his wife, Madhu Aggarwal, 68, of Moon; Cherian John, 65, of Coraopolis; Parth Bharill, 69, of Pittsburgh; and Michael Bummer, 38, of Sewickley.
All were connected with Redirections Treatment Advocates, a treatment center based in Washington, Pa., with locations in Bridgeville and the West Virginia cities of Morgantown, Moundsville and Weirton.
The investigation became public in January, when the FBI, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services raided the clinics.
Christopher Handa, 47, director of operations, was later indicted on counts of conspiracy to distribute Suboxone, which is used to treat addicts, and submitting bills to Medicaid and Medicare for payments to cover the costs of the drugs.
Suboxone, a brand name, is a combination of buprenorphine, a relatively mild opioid, and naltrexone, which blocks other opioids from acting on the brain’s receptors. Experienced opioid users don’t experience a high from Suboxone, but it prevents them from going into withdrawal. So some users buy Suboxone to keep from going into withdrawal during periods in which they can’t find heroin. And some try to manage their own recoveries by purchasing Suboxone on the streets.
The doctors, who were under contract at Redirections, are charged with similar crimes at the facilities where they worked.
Dr. Krishan Aggarwal and Dr. John, for example, are accused of authorizing Mr. Handa and others to fax prescriptions for Suboxone for patients who had no medical need for it and then billing insurance for the costs.
In the case of Dr. Bharill, who worked at the Morgantown office, the grand jury said he provided pre-signed blank prescriptions to Mr. Handa, who then completed the dosage information without the doctor being in the office.
Dr. Bummer is accused of the same at the Washington office and Dr. Madhu Aggarwal at the Bridgeville office.
Dr. Krishan Aggarwal, Dr. Bharill and Dr. John are all charged in the northern district of West Virginia because they worked at the clinics there; their cases will be heard in Clarksburg, W.Va. The other two are indicted in Pittsburgh because they worked at clinics in Washington County.
U.S. marshals hauled them all into federal court Thursday in handcuffs. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Mitchell released them on $50,000 bonds and let them return to work.
All had just been appointed lawyers or said they would retain their own lawyers. Mr. Handa’s lawyer, Ralph Karsh, has refused comment on the investigation.
Dr. Bummer’s lawyer, Efrem Grail, said his client and his family are “deeply concerned by the grand jury’s charges. We look forward to reviewing the evidence.”
The case is being brought as part of a Justice Department program called the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, announced last summer to track and prosecute health care professionals who illegally deal drugs and contribute to the nation’s opioid crisis.
Several other unrelated cases are also being prosecuted in this district under the initiative, which relies on data analysis and other tools to track doctors who over-prescribe.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also assigned a dozen prosecutors in each of 12 “hot spot” districts around the country where the opioid crisis was most acute. Pittsburgh was one of them; the special prosecutor here is Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Cessar.
The first case in the nation since the creation of the national unit was a local doctor, Andrzej Zielke, 62, of Hampton, who operated Medical Frontiers in the Richland Mall. He is under indictment here on charges of running a pill mill.
Federal agents, who had been investigating Dr. Zielke since 2014, said he was doling out prescriptions to addicts for cash, including at least one who died of an overdose.
The DEA estimates that eight of 10 heroin addicts in the U.S. started out as prescription painkiller abusers.
Mr. Cessar and his boss, U.S. Attorney Scott Brady, said the administration’s efforts are geared towards finding the “outliers” among doctors and other healthcare professionals who are fueling addiction for their own benefit.
“We want to attack this epidemic with all of the tools in our arsenal,” said Mr. Brady.
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If you have been charged with, or are under indictment, for over prescribing medications, violating the Federal Controlled Substances Act, drug trafficking or selling controlled substances for cash contact our team of Pittsburgh federal criminal defense lawyers immediately.
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