Port Clinton Physician Sentenced to Prison for Prescribing Controlled Substances Without Medical Necessity and Health Care Fraud
Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler announced that William Bauer, 85, of Port Clinton, Ohio, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary to 5 years in prison and was ordered to pay $464,099.14 in restitution, of which $253,300.55 will be paid to Medicare and $210,798.59 to Medicaid. In addition, Judge Zouhary ordered Bauer to pay $100,000 in community restitution. The community restitution will be distributed 65% to the Ohio Attorney General, Crime Victim Services Section, and 35% to the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services. The Court strongly recommended that the community restitution amount go to the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Ottawa, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties.
Judge Zouhary pronounced the sentence after Bauer was convicted at trial of 76 counts of distribution of controlled substances and 25 counts of health care fraud.
“This defendant unnecessarily distributed dangerous and highly addictive controlled substances and repeatedly ignored warning signs that his actions were causing detrimental harm to his patients and the community,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler. “No matter your title, those who flood the streets with dangerous drugs and prey upon vulnerable individuals will answer for their actions.”
“Criminal misconduct within the healthcare system is harmful and destructive,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith. “Not only does healthcare fraud impact insurers through monetary loss, but also to physicians, hospitals, and taxpayers who were unwitting participants to the deceitful actions. We will continue to work diligently to uncover fraudulent schemes that risk public health.”
“The sentencing of William Bauer demonstrates our commitment to stopping those who fuel the opioid epidemic,” said Kent R. Kleinschmidt, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Detroit Field Division. “Medical professionals who disregard their oath and instead seek to profit at the expense of their patients and community will be brought to justice.”
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, between 2007 and 2019, Bauer, at his practice in Bellevue, Ohio, repeatedly prescribed medically unnecessary controlled substances, including Oxycodone, Fentanyl, Morphine and Tramadol, outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
During the trial, prosecutors showed that Bauer prescribed high doses of opioids and other controlled substances to patients without regard to any improvement in pain level, function, or quality of life; prescribed dangerous drug combinations; failed to consider a patient’s state of addiction and ignored warning signs of abuse and diversion such as patients’ stealing medications, frequently requesting early refills, losing medications and other actions.
The case focused on Bauer’s treatment of 14 patients. Throughout the trial, prosecutors showed that these patients suffered a loss of employment, fractured families and experienced deteriorating mental health conditions as a result of their drug dependency. In one instance, court documents state that in 2015 a patient of Dr. Bauer died from an accidental overdose.
In addition to his conviction for distributing controlled substances, Bauer was also convicted of health care fraud. As part of the health care fraud scheme, Bauer billed insurers after prescribing medically unnecessary controlled substances and administered needless epidural and trigger point injections that failed to meet certain procedural requirements. Because these injections failed to meet the procedural requirements, they were rendered ineffective and fraudulently billed to insurers.
“This doctor contributed to the tidal wave of opioid overdoses that flooded our communities,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said. “I am proud of the state and federal partnerships that continue to work to stem the tide of addiction.”
“Providers sow distrust in our nation’s health care system when they participate in health care fraud and activities that endanger their patients,” said Mario M. Pinto, Special Agent in Charge with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. “Along with our law enforcement partners, HHS-OIG will continue to hold accountable those who threaten the safety of beneficiaries through overprescribing and engaging in health care fraud.”
Court documents state that the total loss amount to Medicare and Medicaid due to the fraudulent billing practices was $464,099.14.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ava R. Dustin, Michael A. Sullivan, Robert N. Melching and Payum Doroodian.