2nd SKS Associates Doctor Pleads Guilty to Unlawfully Dispensing Controlled Substances, Health Care Fraud
PITTSBURGH, PA - A prescribing physician with SKS Associates, an opioid treatment facility located in Johnstown, Pa., waived indictment and pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of distribution of controlled substances, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and health care fraud, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
Ruth D. Jones, 57, of Bedford, Pa., pleaded guilty to three counts before Chief United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Jones illegally distributed prescriptions for buprenorphine, a Schedule III controlled substance. She also pleaded guilty to a conspiracy with co-defendant Dr. Michael Cash to create and distribute illegal prescriptions for buprenorphine. In addition, Jones pleaded guilty to health care fraud for allegedly submitting fraudulent claims to Medicare, for payments to cover the costs of the unlawfully prescribed buprenorphine.
According to the government, Jones and Cash saw on average 43 patients every day for periods lasting no more than three to five minutes. Moreover, the government advised the court that upon execution of a search warrant, investigators located more than 2,000 blank, pre-signed prescriptions with Jones’ or Cash’s signatures.
Judge Bissoon scheduled sentencing for March 20, 2019 at 10 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 30 years in prison, a fine of $1,250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Pending sentencing, the court placed Jones on bond.
Assistant United States Attorneys Robert S. Cessar and Michael L. Ivory are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The investigation leading to the filing of charges in this case was conducted by the Western Pennsylvania Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, which combines personnel and resources from the following agencies to combat the growing prescription opioid epidemic: Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, United States Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Attorney’s Office – Criminal Division, Civil Division and Asset Forfeiture Unit, Department of Veterans Affairs-Office of Inspector General, Food and Drug Administration-Office of Criminal Investigations and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Licensing.