West Virginia Physician Pleads Guilty to Drug Charge
A Morgantown, West Virginia, physician pleaded guilty to obtaining controlled substances by fraudulently writing prescriptions using colleagues’ Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) numbers and presenting stolen driver’s licenses to pick up fraudulently prescribed controlled substances from Morgantown area pharmacies for his personal use, announced Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Bill Powell of the Northern District of West Virginia.
Chad Poage, D.O., 35, pleaded guilty to one count of acquiring or obtaining possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael John Aloi of the Northern District of West Virginia.
Poage was an orthopedic surgeon who worked in a practice with locations in Morgantown and Fairmont, West Virginia. As part of his guilty plea, he admitted that, from November 2015 to March 2018, he wrote 30 fraudulent prescriptions for a total of approximately 1,330 50-milligram tablets of Tramadol, 420 5-milligram tablets of Diazepam, and 50 30-milligram tablets of acetaminophen-codeine no. 3, all for his own use. Poage further admitted that on each of the 30 prescriptions, he either wrote colleagues’ DEA registration numbers without their authorization or wrote the prescription out to a patient knowing that he would pick up the prescribed medication for his own use. Poage admitted that on multiple occasions, he presented stolen driver’s licenses when picking up fraudulent prescriptions from pharmacies.
The DEA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and West Virginia State Police investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid (ARPO) Strike Force, under supervision by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia. Trial Attorney Patrick Mott of the Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Wagner of the Northern District of West Virginia are prosecuting the case.
The ARPO Strike Force is made up of prosecutors and data analysts with the Health Care Fraud Unit of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the region and special agents with the FBI, HHS-OIG and DEA. Since its inception in October 2018, the ARPO Strike Force has charged 60 defendants in 11 districts. The Health Care Fraud Unit, in general, maintains 14 strike forces operating in 23 districts, and has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.