Federal and state officials announced charges against 10 individuals for health care fraud relating to illegal distribution of controlled substances in Kentucky as part of a nationwide crackdown aimed at combating the nation’s opioid epidemic.
U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky Russell Coleman outlined the charges during a news conference Thursday afternoon, saying that he hoped the charges would help to “demythologize” health care fraud as it relates to the public perception of physicians.
“We are served in Louisville and in our commonwealth by world class medical practioners. That’s not [who] we’re talking about,” Coleman said. “What health care fraud is, at the end of the day, at its base level, is theft and it’s drug dealing. That’s all that it is.”
Coleman said that investigators identified six separate cases in Kentucky, including schemes defrauding Medicaid recipients and providers, over-prescription, money laundering and more.
In one such case, Dr. Peter Steiner is accused of having illegally dispensed and distributed controlled substances to patients “without a legitimate medical purpose and outside of the usual course of professional medical practice” during his tenure as operator of Kentuckiana Mental Health Associates, authorities said.
The drugs Steiner is alleged to have dispensed include Adderall, oxycodone, and the highly lethal opioid fentanyl, between August 2012 and March 2018, according to court filings.
Amy Hess, a special agent with the Louisville Division of the FBI, said that the effects of the fraud extended beyond financial matters, calling it “a public safety issue.”
“When thousands of people in our country are dying of prescription drug overdoses every year, the FBI currently has over 2,600 heath care fraud investigations across the United States,” Hess said. The FBI’s health care investigations in Kentucky have led to 107 federal indictments in the past five years, she added.
Over 600 individuals, including 150 medical professionals, have been charged in the nationwide sweep, representing more than $2 billion in health care fraud, and an estimated 13 million illegal doses of opioids, according to the Department of Justice.
Coleman said he was not aware of any charges being unveiled by his counterpart in the Eastern District of Kentucky, a region which has suffered from a “pill mill” epidemic before the onset of the modern opioid crisis.
The Kentucky State Police and the Louisville Metro Police Department also participated in the investigations.
Jessie Halladay, a LMPD spokeswoman, said that the department’s Script Unit worked in partnership with the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate the Louisville cases.
Here are the indictments:
USA v. Crosby, Black:
USA v. Brandon Gordon, Monica Berry:
USA v. Yesdel Acosta Perez, Eduardo Chinea-Martinez:
USA v. Chandra Dundumalla Reddy, Vinodini Dundumalla Reddy:
USA v. Osmaro Ruiz:
USA v. Peter Steiner: