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Press Release

Traverse City Physician Assistant Surrenders DEA Registration And Agrees To Life-Time Ban On Prescribing Controlled Substances

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — James J. Berg, P.A., has agreed to resolve allegations that he violated the Controlled Substances Act by writing illegitimate prescriptions for controlled substances, U.S. Attorney Andrew B. Birge announced today. As part of the settlement, Mr. Berg agreed to surrender his U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration that allowed him to prescribe controlled substances, to never reapply for a DEA registration in the future, and to pay a civil penalty of $50,000.

          This settlement resolves allegations that Mr. Berg, the co-owner and operator of Hope Clinic for Muscle & Joint Pain, PLLC (Hope Clinic), a pain management clinic in Traverse City, wrote numerous prescriptions without a legitimate medical purpose and outside of the usual course of professional practice. The United States alleges that Mr. Berg prescribed large quantities of opioids to patients well above national guidelines for treating patients with chronic pain and despite multiple red flags indicating that the prescriptions were not legitimate. These red flags included patients traveling long distances, failing multiple urine drug screen tests, violating Hope Clinic’s pain management agreements, and displaying other conduct indicative of diversion. Mr. Berg also prescribed opioids concurrent with other controlled substances, such as benzodiazepines and muscle relaxers, resulting in a dangerous cocktail.

          “For several years, Mr. Berg recklessly prescribed high doses of opioids in a manner that endangered patients and contributed to the ongoing opioid epidemic,” said U.S. Attorney Birge. “This settlement ensures that Mr. Berg will no longer be in a position to prescribe controlled substances and serves as an example of our office’s efforts to work with the DEA and other law enforcement to use all tools necessary to enforce compliance with controlled substance prescribing laws in Traverse City and the rest of Western Michigan.”

          “To have a medical professional, who is fully aware of the effects of controlled substances, abusing his privileges is a total betrayal of his profession and the public trust,” said DEA Detroit Field Division Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin. “Teamwork at all levels of law enforcement was instrumental in this investigation.”

          This case was investigated by the DEA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan D. Cobb and Andrew J. Hull represented the United States.

          The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only. There has been no determination of liability.


Updated July 14, 2020