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Press Release

Ex-Indian Health Services doctor sentenced to prison, fined for drug kickback scheme while at Blackfeet Indian Reservation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana

GREAT FALLS — A former Indian Health Services doctor who worked on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and admitted using his job to prescribe a diabetes drug from a pharmacy in exchange for kickbacks was sentenced today to three months in prison, two years of supervised release and fined $10,000, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said.

Dr. Arnold Scott Devous, 68, of Billings, pleaded guilty on Sept. 10, 2020 to federal medical officer with conflict of interest.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided. Chief Judge Morris allowed Devous to self-report to prison.

“Dr. Devous used his position and ability to exploit patients in the Blackfeet community.  These kinds of kickback schemes erode the public’s trust in its healthcare providers at a time when we need that trust more than ever.  We will continue to prosecute these schemes to the full extent of the law,” Acting U.S. Attorney Johnson said.

"By engaging in kickback schemes, Dr. Devous committed a serious ethics violation which may result in diminished public trust of federal employees,” said Curt L. Muller, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “With our law enforcement partners, we are committed to rooting out corruption in our federal healthcare programs.”

In court documents filed in the case, the prosecution said that Devous used his position at IHS as a medical officer and in charge of the diabetes program in Browning to prescribe Farxiga, a Type 2 diabetes medication. Farxiga was not on the IHS formulary and could not be obtained at the facility. From December 2015 until June 2016, Devous solicited multiple pharmacies in Montana to fill expensive prescriptions of Farxiga in exchange for Devous receiving a "cut" of the profits and kickbacks. Government personnel are prohibited from engaging in these types of relationships.

Ultimately, a pharmacy agreed to Devous' terms and paid him $45,540 in approximately six months. Devous first hid the kickbacks by sending the money to his wife, and then he used a prospective business associate. Neither of these options was allowable under the law. When interviewed, Devous admitted that his wife received the money, which was illegal. Devous also admitted he never informed his superiors of the outside income as required by law.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Weldon prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.



Clair Johnson Howard
Public Information Officer

Updated January 7, 2021

Health Care Fraud
Indian Country Law and Justice