Former Pittsburgh-area Doctor Pleads Guilty to Unlawfully Prescribing Opioids, Health Care Fraud and Money Laundering
PITTSBURGH – A former physician pleaded guilty today in federal court to drug diversion, health care fraud and money laundering charges associated with his suburban Pittsburgh holistic medical practice, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.
Andrzej Kazimierz Zielke, 66, of Allison Park, Pennsylvania 15101 (Hampton) pleaded guilty to four counts of unlawful dispensing and distributing Schedule II controlled substances, one count of health care fraud, and one count of money laundering before Senior United States District Judge Nora Barry Fischer,
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised Zielke owned and operated Medical Frontiers, LLC, a purported pain management practice, located in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania. On or about October 3, 2017, May 25, 2017, October 3, 2017, and December 17, 2014, Zielke knowingly dispensed and distributed Schedule II drugs, including Oxycodone, Methadone, Hydrocodone and Oxymorphone, to four patients outside the course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. Zielke committed health care fraud by causing fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicaid for payments to cover the costs of the unlawfully prescribed drugs. Finally, Zielke violated federal money laundering statutes when he caused approximately $150,000 in proceeds obtained through his illegal drug distribution to be wired from a bank account to Kitco Metals, Inc., in Canada to purchase silver and collector coins.
“We are intensely focused on stemming the supply of illegal opioids into our communities, regardless of whether the dealers are trafficking on a street corner or are abusing their physician’s oath by prescribing painkillers for no legitimate medical reason,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kaufman. “We will continue our critical work to prosecute all those who are fueling our nation’s continuing opioid crisis.”
“Mr. Zielke created a lucrative scheme peddling opioids for profit and at the same time undermining our healthcare system through fraudulent billing,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall. “Unethical, crooked doctors who choose to line their pockets cause medical care costs to increase for everyone. The FBI is committed to holding those who think they won’t be caught accountable.”
“Andrzej Zielke recklessly funneled opioids into Pittsburgh neighborhoods, fueling the height of the epidemic that takes the lives of 13 Pennsylvanians every day,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “We're working closely with our federal partners to combat this crisis that continues to destroy Pennsylvania families and communities.”
Judge Fisher scheduled sentencing for November 1, 2021. The law provides for a maximum per count sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $500,000.00, or both, for the controlled substances offenses. Zielke faces an additional maximum per count sentence of 10 years and fine of $250,000.00 for the health care fraud charges; and a maximum per count sentence of 10 years and a fine of $250,000.00 for the money laundering offenses. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Pending sentencing, the Court continued Zielke on bond.
Assistant United States Attorney Robert S. Cessar and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Summer Carroll of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office 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 (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.