Former physician's assistant indicted for health care fraud, aggravated identity theft, and illegally prescribing controlled substances
ATLANTA - Theresa Pickering has been arraigned on federal charges of health care fraud, aggravated identity theft, and distribution of controlled substances. Pickering was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 7, 2022.
“By posing as a licensed physician's assistant, Pickering placed her own interests above the safety of the patients that entrusted her with their most important asset – their health,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “This office will use every tool at its disposal to combat this type of unprofessional, unsafe, and unlawful behavior.”
“Pickering had a chance to turn her life around after serving time for previous fraud, but instead choose to commit further crimes, proving that she has not learned from her prior convictions,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI and our partners will not tolerate anyone that puts our citizen’s health care at risk, and we remain determined to expose and bring them to justice.”
“This provider took advantage of her access to patient information for financial gain, undermining both patient trust and the integrity of federal health care programs,” said Tamala Miles, Special Agent in Charge with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “HHS-OIG is proud to work alongside our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute such egregious conduct.”
“When a provider seeks to practice medicine without a license, it puts patients at great risk,” said Amy K. Parker, Special Agent in Charge, Office of Personnel Management, Office of the Inspector General (OPM-OIG). “The OPM OIG will always prioritize keeping patients safe and holding unscrupulous providers accountable.”
According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges, and other information presented in court: On or about September 24, 2019, Pickering was hired as a licensed physician’s assistant a family practice in Norcross, Georgia. Pickering, however, was not a licensed physician’s assistant in Georgia and has not been a licensed physician’s assistant in any state since March 2014.
After serving a prison sentence for 2015 state and federal fraud and narcotics convictions related to Pickering’s illegal practice as a physician’s assistant in Mississippi, Pickering relocated to Georgia and obtained employment at the family practice in Norcross.
While employed there, Pickering treated patients, diagnoses illnesses, ordered diagnostic tests and lab work, handled sick visits and prescribed drugs to patients, none of which was authorized by law based on her lack of licensure and exclusion from federal health care programs.
Pickering also issued prescriptions, while posing as a physician’s assistant, including prescriptions for controlled substances, in the name of Doctor 1, a physician contracted by the practice, without Doctor 1’s permission. Pickering caused the practice to submit at least approximately $147,000 in fraudulent claims for reimbursement to Medicare and numerous private insurance companies.
Theresa Pickering, 53, of Norcross, Georgia, was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Russell G. Vineyard. Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and Office of Personnel Management, Office of the Inspector General.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David A. O'Neal is prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.