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Press Release

San Mateo Doctor Charged With Unlawful Distribution Of Opioids And Health Care Fraud

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

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal grand jury indicted Timothy Mulligan for the unlawful distribution of opioids, including fentanyl, outside the scope of professional practice and health care fraud, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux. 

According to the indictment, Mulligan, 67, of Santa Clara, Calif., is a licensed physician practicing in San Mateo County.  A substantial part of Mulligan’s medical practice involved providing prescriptions for controlled substances—primarily opioids.  As alleged in the indictment, Mulligan issued an unusually high volume of prescriptions for potent opioids, including fentanyl.  For example, according to a state government database, from about August 2014 through June 2018, Mulligan issued more than 9,000 prescriptions for opioids (totaling over 700,000 dosage units) to more than 250 patients.  Overall, Mulligan predominantly prescribed the strongest strength dosages when prescribing fentanyl, oxycodone, and hydrocodone.  In certain instances, Mulligan issued opioid prescriptions in quantities that significantly exceeded generally accepted daily quantities for the drug.  The indictment states that because of the unusual pattern and volume of prescriptions issued by Mulligan and other warning signs, certain pharmacies declined to fill prescriptions issued by Mulligan or restricted the types of Mulligan’s prescriptions that they would fill. 

As further alleged in the indictment, some individuals who obtained medically unnecessary prescriptions from Mulligan used private insurance or Medi-Cal to cover their office visits or pay for the drugs; others paid with cash.  As alleged in the indictment, the insurance companies and Medi-Cal would not have paid for the office visits or paid out the pharmacy claims had they known the prescriptions were not medically necessary or were over-prescribed.

The Honorable Charles R. Breyer, Senior District Judge, scheduled Mulligan’s next appearance for April 29, 2020, at 1:30 p.m.

The indictment filed on February 27, 2020, charges Mulligan with three counts of distributing controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 84l(a)(l) & 841(b)(l)(C); and two counts of health care fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1347.

The indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and the defendant must be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine, and a life term of supervised release for each count of distributing controlled substances; and 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a three-year term of supervised release for each count of health care fraud.  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ross Weingarten is prosecuting this case with the assistance of Linda Love.  This prosecution is the result of an investigation by the DEA with assistance from the San Mateo District Attorney’s Office and the California Department of Health Care Services.

Anyone, including pharmacists and medical professionals, with information about prescriptions issued without a legitimate medical purpose is urged to contact the FBI Tip Line at (415) 553-7400.

Updated March 3, 2020

Prescription Drugs