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Press Release

Syracuse Area Physician Agrees to Pay a Financial Penalty to Resolve Allegations that She Violated Federal Drug Laws

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York
Physician Accepted Payment in Marijuana at Appointments Where Controlled Substances Were Prescribed – Agreed to $50,000 Civil Judgment

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – A federal District Court Judge in the Northern District of New York signed a Stipulated Judgment today resolving the government’s allegations that Dr. Nancy C. Blake violated her obligations under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and its regulations by accepting payment for medical services in marijuana and by failing to create medical records sufficient to justify certain prescriptions to a patient receiving Suboxone, a controlled substance used to treat opioid addiction, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian.

The government alleged that, over an approximately year and a half time period, Dr. Blake issued twenty-three Suboxone prescriptions to a patient and was paid by the patient in small quantities of marijuana for at least twelve of the corresponding medical appointments. Dr. Blake admitted to being paid in marijuana but asserted that it was fewer than twelve times. The government also alleged that Dr. Blake created a medical record in only four of the twenty-three visits. The CSA and its implementing regulations make it unlawful for a physician registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to dispense a controlled substance unless the prescription is issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a practitioner acting in the usual course of her professional practice. Violations of this requirement create civil penalty exposure of up to $25,000 per violation.

United States Attorney Hartunian said: “Our office is committed to using all of the tools at our disposal to ensure that controlled substances are prescribed and dispensed appropriately, an issue of special importance when the prescriptions concern opioids. This settlement reflects our willingness to use the civil penalty provisions of the CSA against providers that fail to fulfill their obligations under applicable regulations and to their patients.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt stated, “This case brings to light how a substance abuse counselor, like Nancy Blake, used someone’s battle with addiction to feed her own. It is also a reminder how easily drug addiction can overpower one’s life and have damaging consequences.”

The investigation and settlement were the result of a coordinated effort among the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. Gadarian.

Updated June 8, 2017

Drug Trafficking
Health Care Fraud
Prescription Drugs