Livonia Doctor and Patient Recruiters Charged in $18 Million Illegal Distribution of Prescription Drugs and Health Care Fraud Scheme
An indictment was unsealed today charging Dr. Zongli Chang, M.D. and seven other individuals with conspiracy to illegally distribute prescription drugs, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider announced today. Chang is also charged with health care fraud.
Schneider was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios of the FBI’s Detroit Division and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office.
Charged in the indictment are:
Zongli Chang, 52, of Novi
Darryl Parker, 56, of Detroit
Tye Chandler, 26, of Detroit
Karen Hall, 57, of Detroit
Deangelo Givhan, 28, of Detroit
Yolanda Cannon, 39, of Detroit
Melvin McGuire, 48, of Detroit
Khary Tremble, 44, of Detroit
The indictment alleges that from January 2012 to May of 2017 (when the State of Michigan revoked Chang’s medical license), Chang and his coconspirators engaged in a large-scale drug diversion scheme. It is alleged that Chang abused his medical license by writing medically unnecessary and highly addictive controlled substance prescriptions in return for cash payments. Chang commonly wrote prescriptions for controlled substances, to include Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen, Oxycodone HCl, Alprazolam, Carisoprodol and Promethazine/codeine syrup. According to the indictment, Chang prescribed more than 2,700,000 dosage units of Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances during the course of the conspiracy. These controlled substances had a conservative street value in excess of $18,000,000. Agents seized more than $600,000 in cash during a search of Chang’s Novi home.
According to the indictment, Chang relied upon “patient recruiters” to bring “fake patients” to his office. These recruiters paid cash to acquaintances to act as patients of Dr. Chang. The recruiters paid Chang cash at each office visit for the prescriptions provided. The recruiters also paid cash to the “fake patients” for appearing for the medical visits. After a cursory examination or no examination at all, Chang always prescribed the requested controlled substances. Darryl Parker, Tye Chandler, Karen Hall, Deangelo Givhan, Yolanda Cannon, Melvin McGuire and Khary Tremble all brought numerous fake patients to Chang’s office and ultimately took control of the controlled substances prescribed by Chang sale for illegal distribution in Michigan and elsewhere.
In addition to the drug diversion charges, Chang faces three counts of health care fraud for billing Medicare for services not provided. The indictment further seeks to forfeit all proceeds of Chang’s illegal activity, including $603,136 in cash seized from his home.
United States Attorney Schneider stated, “Our office has no tolerance for corrupt doctors who are making Michigan’s opioid crisis even worse by unnecessarily prescribing drugs. We will vigorously prosecute those who spread these poisons on our streets.”
"The routine manner in which Dr. Chang illegally made medically unnecessary prescription drugs available to co-conspirators who enabled drug abusers to further their addictions will not be tolerated", said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Detroit Division. "The FBI and our federal partners remain committed to identifying and incarcerating those responsible for sophisticated drug diversion schemes in Michigan".
“Physicians who engage in the prescribing of prescription medications that put their profits before the safety of their patients and the community at large will be held accountable” said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General – Chicago Region. “The OIG has made the opioid crisis one of its’ top priorities and will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to help protect Medicare beneficiaries and the public as a whole from prescription drug abuse.”
The Eastern District of Michigan is one of the twelve districts included in the Opioid Fraud Abuse and Detection Unit, a Department of Justice initiative created by Attorney General Sessions, that uses data to target and prosecute individuals that are contributing to the nation’s opioid crisis. Dr. Chang’s suspicious patterns of prescriptions were detectable from data analysis by the Opioid Fraud Abuse and Detection Unit.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by Special Agents of the FBI and HHS. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Engstrom and Brant Cook.