Local Medical Doctor Sentenced for Operating a Pill Mill, Threatening Federal Law Enforcement and Health Care Fraud
U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that SHANNON CHRISTOPHER CEASAR, M.D., age 45, a physician and former co-owner who operated Gulf South Physician’s Group in Metairie and resided in New Orleans, was sentenced today after previously pleading guilty for his role in illegally dispensing and distributing controlled substances, threatening to assault or murder federal law enforcement officers, and health care fraud.
According to court documents, on April 5, 2017, CEASAR pled guilty to Counts 1, 2, and 3 of a Superseding Bill of Information. Count 1 charged him with conspiracy to distribute and dispense, outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose, quantities of Oxycodone, a Schedule II drug controlled substance. CEASAR ran what was, in essence, a “pill mill,” i.e., an operation in which he prescribed controlled substances to drug seekers and drug abusers without a legitimate medical purpose and in exchange for a flat fee.
CEASAR also pled guilty to and was sentenced for threatening to assault or murder federal law enforcement officers with the intent to impede, intimidate or interfere with such officers while they were engaged in the performance of their official duties, or with the intent to retaliate. On or about July 20, 2016, at a time when CEASAR suspected he was under investigation, he made repeated recorded threats to kill federal law enforcement officers, in particular officers with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Lastly, CEASAR pled guilty to and was sentenced for committing and attempting to commit health care fraud. In total, as a result of CEASAR’s knowing and fraudulent issuance of prescriptions for Schedule II, III, and IV narcotics that he knew were medically unnecessary, health care benefit programs lost approximately $150,000.
U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman sentenced CEASAR to 120 months imprisonment on all three counts, to be served concurrently, followed by a three-year term of supervised release. CEASAR was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $150,788.33 to Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana for losses suffered. As part of his plea agreement, CEASAR also agreed to suspension of his Louisiana medical license and, among other property, the voluntary forfeiture of 33 firearms that were seized upon his arrest on July 22, 2016.
“Operating as a physician in the New Orleans area, Shannon Ceasar violated the trust of his patients and abused his position, which ultimately endangered the lives of many within our community. Based on his greed, Caesar operated the equivalent of a street level pharmacy, peddling opioids for sex and money. The FBI, along with our federal, state, and local partners will continue to investigate the illegal distribution of opioids in Louisiana and help put an end to the suffering that so many victims continue to endure,” said Special Agent in Charge Eric J. Rommal, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New Orleans Field Office.
“The sentence imposed today affirms our commitment that HHS-OIG Special Agents will work closely with our law enforcement partners to identify and bring to justice medical providers who deliberately manipulate the system to fraudulently obtain crucial Medicare and Medicaid dollars,” said Special Agent in Charge C.J. Porter, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General’s Dallas Region. “The sentence also demonstrates that threats of violence against law enforcement agents will not deter us from our commitment to pursue and bring to justice the providers who are contributing to the nation’s opioid epidemic for their own enrichment.”
U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans praised the work of the Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services OIG, and Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as the Jefferson Parish Sherriff’s Office and Louisiana State Police in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorneys Shirin Hakimzadeh, Jordan Ginsberg, and Myles Ranier were in charge of the prosecution.