United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
South Sound Doctor Convicted Of Multiple Counts Of Healthcare Fraud, Tax Crimes And Drug Distribution
Doctor’s Mother Also Convicted of Health Care Fraud and Tax Crimes
ANTOINE JOHNSON, 40, a former resident of Aberdeen, Washington, and his mother, LAWANDA JOHNSON, were convicted today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma of more than two dozen federal felonies connected with their operation of four health care clinics in Western Washington. Following the three week jury trial, ANTOINE JOHNSON and LAWANDA JOHNSON were convicted of 24 counts of health care fraud. ANTOINE JOHNSON was also convicted of 4 counts of filing false income tax returns and five counts of illegal drug distribution. LAWANDA JOHNSON was convicted of six counts of filing false income tax returns. The jury deliberated about two and a half days before returning the guilty verdicts. U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton scheduled sentencing for February 3, 2012.
In 2008, law enforcement investigated information obtained by the Grays Harbor County Drug Task Force that the clinics were dispensing a high number of prescriptions for narcotic pain medications without examining the patient. ANTOINE JOHNSON was the only medical doctor employed by the four clinics, the “Broadway Clinic” in Aberdeen and the “Johnson Family Practice” clinics in Tacoma, Lakewood, and Lacey. Dr. JOHNSON churned out prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances such Oxycodone and Methadone. Evidence introduced at trial indicated that these clinics had thousands of patients and over half of those patients were prescribed controlled substances by Dr. JOHNSON. These prescriptions were refilled for months and years at a time. Often, the patients would come to the clinic, get their weight and blood pressure taken, and then pick up a Schedule II prescription that had been pre-signed by Dr. JOHNSON.
The health care fraud investigation began following an audit by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) of Medicaid billing practices at the clinics. Testimony and evidence at trial showed that the clinics, through their business manager LAWANDA JOHNSON and their only medical doctor, ANTOINE JOHNSON, consistently billed for a higher level of service that was actually provided. Evidence introduced at trial showed that the clinic routinely billed Medicaid and Labor and Industries for high-level service even though a patient was only in the clinic for a refill of a controlled substance medication and only had the patients’ vitals taken.
The JOHNSONS closed their clinics and left the United States shortly after search warrants were executed at the four clinics and the residence of LAWANDA JOHNSON in January 2009. The pair were ultimately located in Madagascar, and were returned to the U.S. for trial. The Department of Health has revoked Dr. JOHNSON’s license to practice medicine.
Health care fraud is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Illegal distribution of controlled substances is punishable by up to 20 years and prison and a $1 million fine. Filing a false tax return is punishable by up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the FBI, the Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI).
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Susan Loitz and Brian Werner.