Grand Jury Returns Superseding Indictment Charging Former Pittsburgh-area Doctor with Unlawfully Distributing Opioids, Health Care Fraud and Money Laundering
PITTSBURGH - A former suburban Pittsburgh physician has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of unlawfully distributing controlled substances, conspiracy to unlawfully distribute controlled substances, health care fraud and money laundering, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
The 121-count superseding indictment, returned on July 31, named Andrzej Kazimierz Zielke, 63, of Allison Park, Pennsylvania, (Hampton) as the sole defendant.
According to the superseding indictment, Zielke owned and operated Medical Frontiers, a holistic practice, located in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania. The indictment alleges that Zielke conspired to create and submit unlawful prescriptions for oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine sulfate and methadone. The recipients of the unlawfully issued prescriptions then filled them at pharmacies. In addition, the indictment alleges Zielke committed health care fraud by causing fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicare, Medicaid, Highmark, and workers’ compensation carriers for payments to cover the costs of the unlawfully prescribed drugs. Finally, the indictment alleges that Zielke violated federal money laundering statutes when he used proceeds obtained through his illegal drug distribution to purchase gold and silver coins.
"Western Pennsylvania is experiencing some of the highest opioid overdose death rates in the nation, rates driven not only by drug traffickers who distribute on our streets but also by those who peddle drugs out their medical offices," stated U.S. Attorney Brady. "We will continue our relentless pursuit of both, and today’s charges demonstrate that medical professionals who exploit their prescribing privileges for personal financial gain will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
On October 5, 2017, Zielke was arrested on a criminal complaint. He was charged in a 13-count indictment in November 2017. Zielke was the first medical provider indicted following Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ formation of the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, a Department of Justice initiative that uses data to target and prosecute individuals that are contributing to the nation’s opioid crisis. Since its formation, the Western District of Pennsylvania’s OFADU has charged 17 physicians or medical professionals.
The law provides for a maximum per count sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both, for the controlled substances offenses. Zielke faces an additional maximum per count sentence of 10 years and fine of $250,000 for the health care fraud charges; and a maximum per count sentence of 10 years and a fine of $250,000 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.
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, 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.
A superseding indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.