Telemedicine Nurse Practitioner Pleads Guilty to $7.8 Million Durable Medical Equipment Fraud Scheme
BOSTON – A former nurse pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston to tampering with opioids intended for emergency department patients at a hospital where he worked and then attempting to conceal his crime by replacing the diverted narcotics with saline.
Mark Croft, 48, of West Boylston, pleaded guilty to one count of tampering with a consumer product and one count of acquiring a controlled substance by deception and subterfuge. U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs scheduled sentencing for May 20, 2021.
While working at a Massachusetts hospital in January 2016, Croft administered hydromorphone and meperidine – both Schedule II controlled substances – to emergency department patients in need of pain relief. Between Jan. 5 and Jan. 14, 2016, Croft tampered with carpujects – syringe devices used to administer injectable fluid medication – containing hydromorphone and meperidine by accessing the automated dispensing machine (ADM) in the hospital’s emergency department.
Specifically, Croft used his credentials to access the ADM and removed carpujects containing hydromorphone and meperidine. He then used syringes to puncture the carpujects and removed portions of the hdyromprohone and meperidine for his own use. In some instances, Croft replaced the medication he removed with saline in an attempt to conceal his conduct. To avoid detection, Croft later put the carpujects with the diluted medication back in the ADM where they remained available for nurses to unwittingly use on patients. Croft also used his credentials to enter a “return to stock” transactions in the ADM, making it falsely appear that no medications had been removed from the carpuject.
The charge of tampering with a consumer product provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception and subterfuge provides for a sentence of up to four years in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Jeffrey Ebersole, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, New York Field Office; and Monica Bharel MD, MPH, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Callahan of Lelling’s Healthcare Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.