WASHINGTON, D.C. — Five doctors, including three who practice in West Virginia, are facing charges for unlawfully distributing buprenorphine and defrauding Medicare and Medicaid.
The five physicians, all with Redirections Treatment Advocates, LLC, are accused of unlawfully dispensing controlled substances at treatment facilities in Morgantown and Weirton in West Virginia; and Washington and Bridgeville in Pennsylvania.
Buprenorphine is a key component of Subutex and Suboxone, which is used to treat opioid addiction. It is a Schedule III controlled substance. According to the National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment, the substance has a lower potential for misuse and can help ease withdrawal side affects from opioid abuse.
The defendants named in the indictment are:
- Dr. Krishan Kumar Aggarwal, 73, of Moon Township, PA, a contractor for RTA in Weirton, WV
- Dr. Madhu Aggarwal, 68, of Moon Township, PA, a contractor for RTA in Bridgeville, PA
- Dr. Parth Bharill, 69, of Pittsburgh, PA, a contractor for RTA in Morgantown, WV
- Dr. Cherian John, 65, of Coraopolis, PA, a contractor for RTA in Weirton, WV
- Dr. Michael Bummer, 38, of Sewickley, PA, a contractor for RTA in Washington, PA
Federal investigators claim the contractors for the suboxone clinics operated by Redirections Treatment Advocates, LLC, unlawfully distributed prescriptions for buprenorphine.
On March 27, a federal grand jury indicted the manager of RTA, 47-year-old CHristopher Handa. He faces a four-count indictment for unlawfully dispensing controlled substances and health care fraud. He could face up to 40 years in prison, if convicted on all counts.
Each defendant in Thursday’s indictment is charged with creating and distributing unlawful prescriptions for buprenorphine, conspiracy to unlawfully distribute buprenorphine, and health care fraud. The fraud charge is a result of alleged fraudulent claims submitted to Medicare or Medicaid for payments to cover the costs of the prescribed buprenorphine.
The five doctors could each face a maximum of 30 years in prison, if found guilty of all three charges. Maximum fines imposed could be up to $1.5 million dollars.
The investigation was conducted by the Western Pennsylvania Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, which combines personnel and resources from more than 10 federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Investigators searched six locations in five different cities in January, including Morgantown, Moundsville, and Weirton.