Feds boast largest healthcare fraud takedown ever at $2B in false claims

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions addresses a news conference to announce a nation-wide health care fraud and opioid enforcement action at the Justice Department in Washington

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions addresses a news conference to announce a nation-wide health care fraud and opioid enforcement action at the Justice Department in Washington

Federal authorities in Kentucky said Thursday they uncovered schemes to divert thousands of powerful opioid painkillers and submit millions of dollars in false medical billings as part of the government's nationwide crackdown on health care fraud.

The arrests came in dozens of unrelated prosecutions the Justice Department announced together as part of an annual healthcare fraud takedown.

The arrests came as part of what the department said was the largest healthcare fraud takedown in United States history and included 162 doctors and other suspects charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing addictive opioid painkillers.

While the Justice Department has been conducting investigations into some opioid manufacturers like OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP, the cases stemming from the sweep did not focus on wrongdoing by major corporations.

The alleged fraud and false billings collectively accounted for 13 million illegal opioid dosages, the Justice Department said, and also included 23 pharmacists and 19 nurses.

The charges against South, 47, of Florence, Alabama, Nelson, 40, of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, Boykin, 45, of San Antonio, Texas, Whitten, 55, of Columbus, Georgia, and Cardozo, 28, of Largo, Florida, add to eight Global sales representatives previously charged by the U.S. Attorney's Office and who all have pled guilty to the conspiracy and scheme. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.

"What health care fraud is at the end of the day, at its base level, is it's theft and it's drug dealing", U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman said.

The defendants, located across 58 federal districts, include 165 physicians, nurses and other licensed medical professionals.

"These are despicable crimes", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Azar were joined in the announcement by Acting Assistant Attorney John P. Cronan of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, Deputy Director David L. Bowdich of the FBI, Assistant Administrator John Martin of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson of the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), Deputy Chief Eric Hylton of IRS Criminal Investigation, Administrator Seema Verma of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and Director Dermot F. O'Reilly of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS).

The facility submitted more than $106 million in claims for addiction treatment services. "By every measure we are more effective at finding and prosecuting medical fraud than ever".

"This data analytics team can tell us important information, like who is prescribing the most drugs, who is dispensing the most drugs, and whose patients are dying of overdoses", he said. The charges were filed in federal court in Brooklyn and Central Islip. The group faces charges for their alleged roles in how they prescribed addictive opioid painkillers.

A Melville man is one of three Long Island doctors accused Thursday of committing fraud in what federal prosecutors said was a kickback scheme that cheated Medicare and Medicaid of as much as $163 million.

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