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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Doctor Pleads Guilty To Heath Care Fraud And Opioid Diversion Charges

HARRISBURG – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Charles J. Gartland, D.O., age 59, of Cochranville, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty today before United States Magistrate Judge Susan E. Schwab to one count of health care fraud and one count of obtaining possession of a controlled substance by deception.

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Gartland perpetrated a scheme to defraud two health care benefit programs, WellSpan Health of York, PA and Medicare, by writing 221 prescriptions between September 2014 and August 2017, for Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Fentanyl, Morphine and other controlled substances.  The prescriptions were issued by Gartland under the names of three of his family members. Of the 221 prescriptions, 194 were for 17,187 Hydrocodone-Ibuprofen 7.5 -200 mg pills. 

The prescriptions were never intended for the medical care or treatment of the family members, but instead were intended for Dr. Gartland’s personal use. As such, the prescriptions were outside the scope of professional medical practice and were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose.

Gartland filled the prescriptions at five pharmacies in York, Chester and Lancaster Counties.  It’s alleged that Gartland deceived the pharmacies into giving him the pills by making them believe they were intended for his family members. WellSpan and Medicare were allegedly defrauded when they paid claims submitted by the pharmacies for the prescriptions.

Judge Schwab released Gartland on supervised release pending completion of a Pre-Sentence Report. No date has yet been set for sentencing.

The case is being investigated by the Harrisburg Offices of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, and the Pennsylvania Department of State Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Douglas Daniel is prosecuting the case.         

A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Health Care Fraud is punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.  Obtaining Possession of a Controlled Substance by Deception is punishable by up to four years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.


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Prescription Drugs
Updated February 27, 2018