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Press Release

Doctor Convicted of Unlawful Distribution of Controlled Substances

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A federal jury convicted a Maine doctor today for unlawfully distributing controlled substances, including oxycodone, hydromorphone, and fentanyl.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Dr. Merideth Norris, 53, of Kennebunk, distributed controlled substances to patients at her practice without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice. Norris prescribed controlled substances despite the fact that some of these patients suffered from opioid use disorder, tested positive for addictive substances that were not prescribed to them, or appeared to be diverting the drugs into the community. Norris was warned about her prescribing on numerous occasions, including by way of pharmacists who refused to fill prescriptions she wrote and letters from an insurance company covering one of her patients. Walmart pharmacies also issued a “central block,” or a nationwide ban, on filling prescriptions written by Norris. When asked by Maine’s Board of Osteopathic Licensure (the “Board”) to justify her prescribing, Norris submitted an incomplete patient file to the Board, and otherwise deceived the Board about her prescribing practices.

The jury convicted Norris of 15 counts of unlawfully distributing controlled substances. She faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Darcie N. McElwee for the District of Maine; Assistant Director Michael Nordwall of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division; Special Agent in Charge Jodi Cohen of the FBI Boston Division; Assistant Administrator Thomas Prevoznik of the DEA’s Diversion Control Division; and Special Agent in Charge Roberto Coviello of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Boston Region made the announcement.

The FBI, DEA, and HHS-OIG investigated the case.

Trial Attorneys Thomas Campbell and Danielle Sakowski of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case, with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Scott for the District of Maine.

The Fraud Section partners with federal and state law enforcement agencies and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices throughout the country to prosecute medical professionals and others involved in the illegal prescription and distribution of opioids. The Fraud Section leads the Criminal Division’s efforts to combat health care fraud through the Health Care Fraud Strike Force Program. Since March 2007, this program, currently comprised of nine strike forces operating in 27 federal districts, has charged more than 5,400 defendants who collectively have billed federal health care programs and private insurers more than $27 billion. In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to hold providers accountable for their involvement in health care fraud schemes. More information can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/health-care-fraud-unit.

Anyone needing access to opioid treatment services can contact HHS-OIG’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 24/7 National Helpline for referrals to treatment services at 1-800-662-4359.

Updated June 21, 2024

Topic
Health Care Fraud
Press Release Number: 24-796