Nurse Practitioner Pleads Guilty to Drug Distribution and Health Care Fraud Charges in Ongoing “Pill Mill” Case
Montgomery, Ala. – On Monday, January 22, 2017, Steven Edwin Cox, 61, of Tallassee, Alabama, pleaded guilty to drug distribution conspiracy and health care fraud charges arising out of the ongoing investigation and prosecution of a Montgomery “pill mill,” announced United States Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr. The “pill mill” at issue was the Family Practice medical office located at 4143 Atlanta Highway in Montgomery, Alabama.
According to court documents, until 2017, Cox worked at the Family Practice with Dr. Gilberto Sanchez. In November of 2017, Sanchez pled guilty to drug distribution, health care fraud, and money laundering charges arising out of the same scheme. Cox’s role in the scheme was to see patients originally prescribed unnecessary controlled substances by Sanchez and to give those patients refills on their prescriptions. Cox did so knowing that the patients did not actually need the medicine he was prescribing to them. Cox also helped Sanchez to fraudulently bill health insurance companies for the time he spent seeing the patients.
At sentencing, Cox faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment on the drug distribution conspiracy charge, and 10 years’ imprisonment on the health care fraud charge. He also faces substantial monetary penalties and restitution.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Squad, the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division, and the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General. The Montgomery County, Alabama Sheriff’s Office, the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, the Montgomery, Alabama Police Department, and the Opelika, Alabama Police Department all assisted in the investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan S. Ross and R. Rand Neeley are prosecuting the case.