Former Doctor Sentenced to 75 Months in Prison for Illegally Prescribing Opiates and Committing Health Care Fraud
Rodney Moret of Madison Heights, Michigan was sentenced today to 75 months’ imprisonment for participating in conspiracies to distribute prescription pills illegally and to defraud Medicare, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider announced. His crimes include over $15 million of prescriptions drugs, and an additional $6 million in health care fraud.
Schneider was joined in the announcement by Timothy Waters, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigations and Lamont Pugh, Special Agent in Charge of the Inspector General of the Department of health and Human Services.
Dr. Moret, 67, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Leitman.
Moret previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to illegally distribute prescription drugs and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The pleas were based on Moret’s participation as the sole practitioner at Advance Care Services (ACS), a medical clinic in Southfield, MI. The medical practice purported to be a pain management and HIV infusion clinic, but was actually nothing more than a “pill mill”. The scheme involved patient marketers using “patients” to obtain medically unnecessary controlled substance prescriptions issued by Moret, who at the time was a licensed medical doctor. Medicare was billed for examinations and tests that were not conducted properly or not conducted at all. Once the prescriptions were filled, the marketers sold the drugs on the street (?) in Southeast Michigan.
According to statements made at the plea hearing and evidence submitted at sentencing, the clinic operated from 2010 until 2015 and was owned by defendant Jorge Azar. The day-to-day operations of the clinic were managed by defendant Jellie Villalon. Moret would issue the prescriptions after a cursory examination or no examination at all and often took advantage of the female “patients” who were at the clinic to receive controlled substance prescriptions by sexually molesting or harassing them.
Moret was responsible for illegally distributing over 700,000 dosage units of Hydrocodone, (Vicodin, loratab), more than 240,000 dosage units of Alprazolam, and more than 2 million milliliters of promethazine with codeine cough syrup, worth more than $15 million on the street market. He was responsible for over $6 million in health care fraud.
Hydrocodone, Alprazolam, and promethazine with codeine cough syrup are controlled substances that may be prescribed by a doctor only for a legitimate medical purpose. A doctor must act in good faith in prescribing these medications. These are powerful and addictive drugs. Hydrocodone is in the opioid class, is easily abused, and can lead to addiction and eventual heroin use.
“Physicians who divert prescription drugs to the street market are contributing to the drug epidemic in the country, and we are focusing our enforcement efforts on stopping them,” stated United States Attorney Matthew Schneider.
“Prescribing controlled substances – such as Hydrocodone – outside the scope of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose is illegal”, said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General – Chicago Region. “Physicians who in engage in this type of behavior put patient health and safety at risk and exacerbate the opioid crisis. The OIG will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who commit these criminal acts are held accountable.”
“Rodney Moret, a former physician, intentionally fueled the local opioid epidemic by over prescribing addictive medications to patients for his own personal gain,” said Timothy Waters, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI. “The message should be clear, any doctor or healthcare professional who prioritizes profit or does harm to their patients under the guise of providing health care will be subject to the full investigative resources of the FBI and our law enforcement partners.”
Moret was one of five defendants named in a multi-count first superseding indictment unsealed in February 2016. All defendants, including the owner and manager of ACS, entered guilty pleas to either conspiracy to distribute prescription pills or conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
Based upon his offense conduct in this case, on March 31, 2017, Dr. Moret’s license to practice medicine was revoked by the State of Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Professional Licensing.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the General Counsel. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Regina R. McCullough and Michael Heesters.