Independence physician pleads guilty to
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that an Independence, Mo., physician has pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in a conspiracy to illegally distribute more than $1 million worth of OxyContin and oxycodone.
Bruce Layne Baker, 54, of Independence, pleaded guilty on Jan. 27, 2011, to his role in a conspiracy to distribute OxyContin and oxycodone. Baker, an osteopathic physician, also pleaded guilty to health care fraud.
By pleading guilty, Baker agreed to forfeit to the government $1,166,781, which represents the proceeds obtained as a result of the drug-trafficking conspiracy and health care fraud. Baker also agreed to relinquish his Missouri and Kansas medical licenses.
The plea agreement, which was filed under seal, was unsealed and made public on Feb. 14, 2011, following the arrests of several defendants who were indicted in a separate but related case.
Drug Trafficking Conspiracy
Baker admitted that he participated in a conspiracy with Kevin Martin Cummings, 50, and Jonna Womboldt, 39, both of Kansas City, Mo., and others to distribute OxyContin and oxycodone from July 2006 to January 2010. Cummings and Womboldt have also pleaded guilty, in separate but related cases, to their roles in the drug-trafficking and money laundering conspiracies and to health care fraud. Cummings also pleaded guilty to theft of government money based on Social Security fraud.
Baker began operating Mobile Physicians and Medical Services, LLC, a business that made house calls to hotels and businesses, in 2005. Baker admitted that he provided prescriptions for strippers, bartenders, and bouncers without a medical examination or demonstration of a medical need. He was paid $50 cash for each prescription. In June 2006, Baker met Cummings. Cummings had no medical training but bought into the Mobile Physicians business.
From July 2006 through January 2010, Baker issued prescriptions to Cummings for OxyContin and oxycodone that were not intended for a medical purpose. Baker also issued Cummings prescriptions for OxyContin and oxycodone in the names of other individuals without examining or treating the individuals, and also to individuals without them knowing the prescriptions were issued in their names. Cummings filled these prescriptions, or arranged for them to be filled, and then illegally distributed the OxyContin and oxycodone.
Cummings also introduced Baker to other co-conspirators so that they could obtain prescriptions for OxyContin and oxycodone from Baker. These co-conspirators filled the prescriptions and gave some or all of the pills to Cummings, who illegally distributed them.
Womboldt, who met Cummings and Baker in late 2006 or early 2007, began dating Cummings and became involved in Cummings’ narcotics trafficking business shortly thereafter. She would deliver drugs and pick up money for Cummings, which included the distribution of OxyContin and oxycodone.
As compensation for writing the prescriptions, Baker received pills from Cummings or Womboldt and was often paid $100 per prescription.
Over the course of the conspiracy, Baker caused OxyContin and oxycodone prescriptions to be issued for individuals with no legitimate medical need, filled at pharmacies, and paid by health care benefit programs. The estimated sales of the pills totaled $952,520.
Health Care Fraud
Baker admitted that he defrauded health care benefit programs by causing claims for illegal prescriptions to be submitted to and paid by Medicare, Medicaid (a/k/a Missouri HealthNet), TriCare, Blue Cross Blue Shield-Kansas City, and United Healthcare. The pharmacies that filled the illegal prescriptions issued by Baker submitted claims for payment to health care benefit programs and received payment from these health care benefit programs. A total of nearly 83,000 pills were dispensed, for a total payment of more than $214,000 from health care benefit programs.
Kimberly Lee Collet, 31, of Gladstone, Mo., pleaded guilty in a separate but related case to health care fraud and to unlawfully obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. Collet admitted that she submitted claims to her insurance company for illegal prescriptions of OxyContin and oxycodone. Collet obtained the prescriptions from Baker, although she had no legitimate medical need for them. From June 2008 through August 26, Collet caused 50 claims – totaling 2,391 pills – for illegal prescriptions to be submitted by pharmacies to her insurer.
Money Laundering Conspiracy
Cummings maintained bank accounts in the names of his mudjacking business at several banks. Cummings commingled funds from the unlawful distribution of OxyContin and oxycodone with funds derived from his mudjacking business, and other business ventures, to purchase several parcels of real estate, make loans to individuals, and cash checks in order to conceal the source of those funds and to carry out the drug-trafficking conspiracy. More than $300,000 from the drug-trafficking proceeds was laundered through various banks accounts by Cummings.
Under federal statutes, Baker is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1,250,000. Cummings and Womboldt are each subject to a sentence of up to 50 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1,750,000. Collet is subject to a sentence of up to 14 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.
These cases are being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Gregg R. Coonrod and Assistant U.S. Attorney Cindi Woolery. They were investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, and the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General.