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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 3, 2018

Former UPMC Radiologist Pleads Guilty to Health Care Fraud and Unlawfully Prescribing Vicodin

PITTSBURGH, PA – A former radiologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center waived indictment and pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of unlawfully distributing controlled substances and health care fraud, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Marios D. Papachristou, 43, of Allison Park, PA, pleaded guilty to two counts before United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Papachristou conspired to create and submit unlawful prescriptions for Vicodin, and then unlawfully dispensed those controlled substances to other persons not specifically named in the Indictment. Papachristou also committed health care fraud for allegedly submitting fraudulent claims to UPMC Health Plan, for payments to cover the costs of the unlawfully prescribed Vicodin.

"Today’s guilty plea marks the first conviction in a case investigated by the Western Pennsylvania Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, a Department of Justice initiative that uses data to target and prosecute individuals that commit opioid-related health care fraud," stated U.S. Attorney Brady. "The data we are receiving provides important information about prescription opioids, prescribers and pharmacies that is being used to start or strengthen our investigations."

Judge Schwab scheduled sentencing for October 10, 2018, at 10 a.m. The law provide a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000 for unlawfully dispensing Schedule II controlled substances; and a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for health care fraud. 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 the defendant on bond.

Assistant United States Attorney Robert S. Cessar is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The investigation leading to the prosecution of 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.

Topic(s): 
Prescription Drugs
Health Care Fraud
Updated May 3, 2018