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Thursday, November 12, 2020

Tennessee Emergency Medical Doctor Sentenced to Prison for Unlawfully Distributing Controlled Substances

A Tennessee emergency medical doctor was sentenced today to serve 24 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his role in unlawfully distributing controlled substances.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Don Cochran of the Middle District of Tennessee and Special Agent in Charge J. Todd Scott of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Louisville Division made the announcement.

Lawrence J. Valdez, M.D., 51, of Hendersonville, Tennessee, was sentenced after pleading guilty in November 2019 to one count of unlawful distribution of controlled substances.  U.S. District Judge Eli J. Richardson of the Middle District of Tennessee imposed the sentence.

Pursuant to his guilty plea, Valdez admitted that in February 2017 he knowingly distributed oxymorphone, a schedule II controlled substance, to a patient without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice.  He further admitted to distributing schedule II opioids to four different patients without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the course of professional practice on 16 other occasions between June 2016 and February 2017, and in exchange for sexual intercourse and other sexual acts with those patients.

The DEA, Tennessee’s 18th Judicial Drug Task Force and the District Attorney General’s Office for Tennessee’s 18th Judicial District investigated the case.  Assistant Chief Kilby Macfadden and Trial Attorney William M. Grady of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.

The Fraud Section leads the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid (ARPO) Strike Force.  Since its inception in October 2018, the ARPO Strike Force, which operates in 10 districts, has charged more than 70 defendants who are collectively responsible for distributing more than 50 million pills.  Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts, has charged more than 4,200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for approximately $19 billion. In addition, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-Office of Inspector General, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Individuals who believe that they may be a victim in this case should visit the Fraud Section’s Victim Witness website for more information.

Health Care Fraud
Press Release Number: 
Updated November 12, 2020