BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A federal judge today sentenced a Fultondale doctor to six years in prison for prescribing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose and engaging in health care fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona, DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Clay Morris, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr.
U.S. District Judge Annemarie C. Axon sentenced PAUL ROBERTS, M.D., 48, of Fultondale, Ala., a physician and former co-owner of Southeast Urgent Care (“SEUC”) in Fultondale, following a guilty plea he entered to 16 counts stemming from a June 2019 Second Superseding Indictment. Roberts pled guilty to 12 counts of prescribing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose, including allowing unqualified staff such as an X-ray technician, to prescribe controlled substances to patients using prescriptions that Roberts pre-signed. He also prescribed controlled substances to two women, in exchange for, or in an attempt to obtain sexual favors from them. Roberts also pled guilty to a conspiracy and scheme to fraudulently bill Blue Cross Blue Shield for office visits. In addition, he pled guilty to a conspiracy and scheme to fraudulently bill health insurance companies for up to $2.2 million worth of medically unnecessary compounded drugs in exchange for kickbacks. Roberts was also ordered to pay restitution of $2.2 million, a fine of $100,000, and 12 years of supervision following his release from prison. The U.S. Marshals took Roberts into custody at sentencing. As part of the plea agreement, Roberts agreed to relinquish all his medical licenses, including his Alabama medical license.
In a related case, STANLEY REEVES, 62, of Demopolis, Ala., a pharmacist and owner of F&F Drugs in Demopolis, was sentenced to 38 months for one count of conspiring to fraudulent bill health insurance companies for $10.5 million worth of medically unnecessary compounded drugs. Of the $10.5 million, $2.2 million was for compounded drugs prescribed by Roberts. Reeves was also ordered to pay restitution of $10.5 million, pay forfeiture of $900,000, and a fine of $100,000. Reeves paid $400,000 of those amounts at sentencing. As part of the plea agreement, Reeves agreed to surrender his pharmacist license to the Alabama Board of Pharmacy.
“In blatant disregard for the law, these defendants chose greed over patients’ welfare,” said U.S. Attorney Prim Escalona. “This kind of criminal conduct endangers lives in our communities and impacts healthcare costs, and we will continue to prioritize these cases.”
“DEA is committed to bringing to justice those who engage in the dispensing of prescription drugs outside the course of a legitimate medical purpose,” Morris said. “The sentences handed down are a direct result of the hard work put forth by all law enforcement agencies involved. Today justice has been served.”
“Today’s sentence sends a message to all those in the medical field that neither their medical license nor their white lab coats will protect them from the consequences of illegal drug distribution and medical fraud,” Sharp said. “Roberts and Reeves violated both our laws and their solemn oaths as medical professionals and they will now pay for those violations. It is sad to know that while many individuals continue to struggle with serious opiate addiction, this case reveals that such powerful narcotics can sometimes become available for abuse because of the illegal actions of those in the medical community.”
BRETT TAFT, 46, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., is listed as a co-defendant in the compounding drug health care fraud conspiracy and scheme described in the June 2019 Second Superseding Indictment. A trial date has not yet been set.
FBI and DEA investigated the cases. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chinelo Dike-Minor, Austin Shutt, Kristen Osborne, and Lloyd C. Peeples are prosecuting the case.