St. Louis, MO – Dr. Philip Dean, 62, a resident of Warren County, Missouri, pled guilty today to two felony charges, illegally distributing opiate medications and making a false statement to the Medicare program.
According to his plea agreement, Dr. Dean operated a medical office in Warren County, Missouri. Dr. Dean had personal relationships with three women, living with these women for some time periods. While engaging in personal relationships with these women, Dr. Dean also prescribed them with prescription opioid pain relief medications, including Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, and several forms of Fentanyl. The two felony charges from Dr. Dean’s plea agreement involve two of these women, referred to by their initials in the plea agreement as R.W. and C.H.
Regarding patient R.W., before his prescribing decisions at issue in this case, Dr. Dean was aware that R.W. had lost her health care provider license after experiencing serious prescription drug abuse problems. Dr. Dean was also aware that R.W. had been involved in motor vehicle accidents and traffic stops by police after driving while intoxicated because of prescription drugs. Nevertheless, during 2015-16, Dr. Dean prescribed R.W. with assorted opioid medications, including a fentanyl medication that was only approved for medical use by cancer patients with break-through pain. R.W. does not have cancer. R.W. repeatedly consumed her thirty day supplies of these prescription drugs before thirty days had elapsed. Recognizing that prescribing R.W. with duplicative and overlapping prescriptions for thirty day supplies of opiates would raise suspicion, Dr. Dean repeatedly prescribed R.W. with additional opiate prescriptions using the name of R.W.’s family member. Medicare funded these prescriptions, not knowing that R.W. was ending up with these medications. Dr. Dean personally picked up and paid a co-payment for one of these hydrocodone prescriptions that he wrote for R.W. using another patient’s name.
Regarding C.H., defendant issued her a prescription for Codeine, an opiate pain medication and controlled substance, on March 31, 2017 after exchanging text messages of a personal nature with her. Dr. Dean did not examine C.H. before issuing the prescription on March 31, 2017. According to medical records seized during the execution of a search warrant at the medical office, C.H. had not visited Dr. Dean’s office since January 24, 2017.
Dr. Dean admitted in his plea agreement that his opioid prescribing decisions exposed these patients to a risk of serious bodily injury, given the potency and side effects of the drugs he was prescribing and the patients’ histories of drug problems.
Dr. Dean pled guilty before Senior United States District Judge E. Richard Webber. Sentencing has been set for November 20, 2108. He now faces a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and/or fines up to $500,000, for the drug distribution, and a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000 for the false statement to Medicare. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
“This is an outrageous violation of the trust our society commits to physicians. Dr. Dean violated that trust and exploited his drug dependent patients. On top of it all, the taxpayers were forced to foot the bill for his crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen.
Steve Hanson, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Kansas City Region, stated, “Regarding our agency’s ongoing efforts in combating our nation’s opioid crisis, our office will continue to aggressively pursue those who misuse their positions and recklessly prescribe medication to our beneficiaries.”
“Prescription opioids serve an important purpose when used legitimately for patients suffering from chronic pain and illness. In this particular case, we had a doctor with the power to write prescriptions misrepresenting the truth, supplying narcotics to people with serious addiction issues that he was aware of and bilking all of us who pay taxes while doing it. The Drug Enforcement Administration will continue to pursue these bad actors to bring them to justice. Addiction to opioids is a serious illness and we will not allow doctors to abuse their authority for personal gain,” said Special Agent in Charge William J. Callahan of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
This case was investigated by the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Warrenton Police Department, and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Missouri Attorney General’s Office.