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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 13, 2017

Charges Filed Against Northern California Physician For Unlawfully Dispensing Oxycodone

36-Count Indictment Filed Simultaneously with Largest Health Care Fraud Enforcement Action in Department of Justice History

SAN FRANCISCO — Christopher Owens, a physician licensed to practice in California, was indicted on Tuesday with unlawfully prescribing oxycodone, announced U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge John J. Martin.  The indictment alleges that between September of 2012 and June of 2015, Owens, 50, now of Indianapolis, IN, intended to act outside the course of usual professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose when he prescribed oxycodone on numerous occasions.  In sum, Owens is charged with 36 counts of distributing oxycodone, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C).  

Owens was arrested on Tuesday, July 11, 2017, in Indianapolis, Ind., and is currently scheduled to appear in Indiana before a U.S. Magistrate Judge for a detention hearing on Monday, July 17th.

An indictment merely alleges a crime has been committed.  Owens, as well as all defendants, must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheila Armbrust is prosecuting the case.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration with assistance from the University of California San Francisco Police Department.  

Earlier today, federal officials joined in Washington to announce the scope of the recent enforcement actions. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, M.D., Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Acting Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Chuck Rosenberg, Inspector General Daniel Levinson of the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), IRS-Criminal Investigations Chief Jon Fort, CMS Administrator Seema Verma, and Deputy Director Kelly P. Mayo of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) described the program.  The enforcement actions were led and coordinated by the Criminal Division and staffed by the Fraud Section’s Health Care Fraud Unit in conjunction with its Medicare Fraud Strike Force (MFSF) partners, a partnership between the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Offices, the FBI and HHS-OIG.  In addition, the operation includes the participation of the DEA, DCIS, and State Medicaid Fraud Control Units.  Of the more than 412 people charged, over 120 defendants, including doctors, were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics.
 

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Topic(s): 
Healthcare Fraud
Updated September 5, 2017