independence physician sentenced for
$1 million drug-trafficking conspiracy
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that an Independence, Mo., physician was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a conspiracy to illegally distribute more than $1 million worth of OxyContin and oxycodone.
Bruce Layne Baker, 55, of Independence, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan to six years and three months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Baker 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, an osteopathic physician, has relinquished his Missouri and Kansas medical licenses.
Baker pleaded guilty on Jan. 27, 2011, to his role in a conspiracy to distribute tens of thousands of OxyContin and oxycodone pills. Baker also pleaded guilty to health care fraud. He is among nine defendants who have been charged in separate but related cases.
Drug Trafficking Conspiracy
Baker admitted that he participated in a conspiracy with Kevin Martin Cummings, 51, of Kansas City, Mo., and others to distribute OxyContin and oxycodone from July 2006 to January 2010.
Cummings has also pleaded guilty and been sentenced, in a separate but related case, for his role in the drug-trafficking and money laundering conspiracies and for health care fraud. Cummings also pleaded guilty to theft of government money based on Social Security fraud. Cummings was sentenced to nine years and 10 months in federal prison without parole and has forfeited $169,490 to the government as part of the court-ordered forfeiture that includes seven residential properties and a $1,385,890 money judgment. Cummings will continue to liquidate assets while in custody – including residential property – to satisfy the judgment.
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.
As compensation for writing the prescriptions, Baker received pills from Cummings 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.These cases were 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.