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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Former Family Practitioner Sentenced to Prison for Illegally Dispensing Drugs and Health Care Fraud

PITTSBURGH, PA - A former physician who operated private family practices in Perryopolis, Pennsylvania, and Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court to 18 months’ incarceration, followed by three years supervised release, and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine on his conviction of violating federal narcotics and health care laws, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced today.

United States District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan imposed the sentence on Emilio Ramon Navarro, 60, of Coal Center, Pennsylvania.

According to the information presented to the court, Navarro, a licensed physician in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, operated private family practices in Mount Pleasant and Perryopolis. In 2018, Navarro issued Victim 1 nine prescriptions for a total of 300 dosage units of Oxycodone and 240 dosage units of Oxymorphone, both Schedule II controlled substances, outside the usual course of professional practice and for no legitimate medical purpose. Rather, Navarro forced Victim 1 to engage in sexual acts with him prior to issuing her these prescriptions to which he caused her to be addicted. Navarro thereby caused the submission of fraudulent claims to Medicaid for reimbursement for the unlawfully prescribed prescriptions thereby defrauding Medicaid.

Prior to imposing the sentence, Judge Ranjan stated, “There are victims involved and they have suffered lasting impacts.”

“Today’s sentence holds Dr. Navarro accountable for his illegal activities,” said U.S. Attorney Chung. “I will continue our office’s tenacious pursuit of unscrupulous doctors who exploit the addictions of patients for personal gratification and then cause our healthcare system to be defrauded.”

“Dr. Navarro had a clear disregard for medical integrity,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall. “He preyed on victims struggling with addiction and traded drugs for sex. The FBI will continue to work with our partners to hold accountable those who abuse their positions of trust.”

“When Dr. Navarro prescribed opioid prescriptions in exchange for sexual favors, he abandoned his duty as a physician and recklessly discarded the health and safety of his patients,” said Special Agent in Charge Maureen R. Dixon of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Together with our law enforcement partners, our agency will continue to uproot such egregious fraud schemes that threaten public health and wastes taxpayer dollars.”

“Navarro held a position of trust in his community and his patients depended on him to provide medical care,” said AG Shapiro. “He will now face consequences for showing no regard for the health and safety of his patients, illegally prescribing drugs that have fueled the opioid crisis here in Pennsylvania, and defrauding our Commonwealth's Medicaid Program. The Office of Attorney General's arrests of prescribers who divert prescription drugs are up 135% since 2016. We will continue to work with our partners to seek out those who put lives at risk and hold them accountable.”

Assistant United States Attorneys Robert S. Cessar and Mark V. Gurzo are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The investigation leading to the prosecution of Emilio Navarro was conducted by the Western Pennsylvania Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit (OFADU). The Western Pennsylvania
OFADU, led by federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, combines the expertise and resources of federal and state law enforcement to address the role played by unethical  medical professionals in the opioid epidemic. The agencies which comprise the Western Pennsylvania OFADU include: 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, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General – Bureau of Narcotic Investigations, 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, U.S. Office of Personnel Management – Office of Inspector General and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Licensing.

Topic(s): 
Prescription Drugs
Health Care Fraud
Updated March 1, 2022