Doctor Pleads Guilty to Opioid Conspiracy and Health Care Fraud
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Fairfax physician pleaded guilty today to leading and organizing an extensive and illegal prescription distribution conspiracy and a related health care fraud scheme.
According to court documents, Dr. Felicia Lyn Donald, 65, of Great Falls, organized, led, and operated a prescription “pill mill” from at least April 2016 through April 2020. Donald practiced medicine at For Women OB/GYN Associates and NOVA Addiction Center. Donald distributed over 1.2 million milligrams (mg) of Schedule II opioids at or above the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guideline for dosages that a practitioner should avoid, with a total street value of over $1.2 million, and illegally distributed at least 325,190 mg of oxycodone and other Schedule II controlled substances. Donald also committed health care fraud on numerous occasions in furtherance of her scheme.
“Donald flagrantly violated her oath as a physician and put countless lives at risk,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “It is critical that those with the power to prescribe controlled substances be held accountable for their actions, and that putting the health and safety of the American public at risk is a federal crime. This is especially true at this very moment when we are relying on medical professionals to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Additionally, Donald fraudulently prescribed Schedule II opioid pills that she illegally distributed to a close associate, knowing that this individual sold the prescriptions on the street for profit. Around the same time, Donald issued prescriptions to the close associate for alprazolam pills, which belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Donald admitted that the use of opioids with benzodiazepines is a dangerous combination of drugs that can make a person stop breathing, and could have killed or caused serious bodily injury to the close associate or to the ultimate users.
“Donald’s actions fueled our nation’s opioid crisis and endangered lives,” said Maureen R. Dixon, Special Agent in Charge for HHS-OIG. “We will work tirelessly with our partners to prevent criminals from preying on the Medicaid program and its beneficiaries.”
Donald admitted that she prescribed opioids to addicts and/or drug dealers who had traveled from out-of-state or long distances to her practice; individuals that informed Donald of their pending drug charges; individuals who Donald knew had failed urine toxicology screens; individuals who Donald knew were selling the pills that she prescribed to them; paying certain employees, in part, with opioid prescriptions rather than through pay checks; and giving blank prescriptions to certain members of her medical office staff and other co-conspirators for their personal use.
“Today’s guilty plea illustrates the lure of greed and making money at the expense of those in need of treatment,” said Kevin Vorndran, acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division. “The FBI will not stand by while so-called medical ‘professionals’ abuse their oaths and abandon their responsibilities to their patients. Removing even one doctor who diverts opioids for profit can make a significant and lasting impact in a community, especially in the lives of those affected by reckless prescribing and dispensing practices.”
Donald attempted to conceal her patterns of illegal prescribing by falsifying medical records to make it appear as though individuals who were never her patients received examinations and medical care, when in fact they had not, and engaging in Medicaid fraud. Donald fraudulently issued prescriptions to others in the names of at least nine unwitting individuals, none of whom were her patients. Donald also issued prescriptions for high doses of oxycodone to multiple women who were pregnant.
Donald pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose, and health care fraud. She agreed to surrender her medical license and faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison when sentenced on August 21. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Kevin Vorndran, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Washington Field Criminal Division; and Maureen Dixon, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Raj Parekh and Monika Moore are prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:20-cr-100.