Greensburg Physician Pleads Guilty to Drug Distribution, Health Care Fraud and Money Laundering
PITTSBURGH – A Greensburg physician pleaded guilty in federal to three counts of distribution of buprenorphine, a Schedule III controlled substance, outside the usual course of professional practice; one count of health care fraud; and one count of money laundering, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
Nabil Jabbour, 68, a physician who previously operated an addiction-medicine practice out of offices in Greensburg and Connellsville, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.
During his plea hearing, Jabbour admitted that on three occasions between July 2016 and December 2016 he unlawfully prescribed buprenorphine to undercover law enforcement officers. Buprenorphine is commonly used in the treatment of patients suffering from opioid addiction, and it is sold under the trade names Suboxone, Subutex, or Zubsolv. As Jabbour acknowledged, none of the undercover officers to whom he prescribed buprenorphine suffered from opioid use disorder. Jabbour further admitted that he did not accept insurance from his patients, requiring instead that they pay him in cash—typically $100 for an initial office visit and $80 for each subsequent visit. Although Jabbour did not accept insurance, he admitted that he caused Medicare and Medicaid, two government-funded health benefit programs, to cover the costs of fraudulent buprenorphine prescriptions that he wrote for his patients. Finally, Jabbour pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering based on a transaction he initiated at the Meadows Casino in July 2016 involving $13,960 in cash derived from his unlawful distribution of buprenorphine.
Pursuant to a written plea agreement, the defendant also accepted responsibility for unlawfully distributing buprenorphine on fourteen additional occasions, maintaining his office locations in Greensburg and Connellsville as drug-involved premises, and laundering cash from his buprenorphine practice, in the form of cash transactions exceeding $10,000, at the Meadows Casino during four additional trips to the casino. The defendant also agreed that he was responsible for between 10,000 and 20,000 doses of unlawful buprenorphine prescriptions, and that he caused losses to Medicare and Medicaid of up to $40,000.
Sentencing has been set for March 2, 2020, at 10 a.m.
Jabbour faces a maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of $500,000 for each distribution count, a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for the health care fraud charge, and a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for the money laundering charge. 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 Eric G. Olshan is 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 multiple federal and state agencies to combat the growing prescription opioid epidemic, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General – Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General. The Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General – Narcotics Unit, Greensburg City Police, South Greensburg Police, and Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Office also provided assistance during the investigation and prosecution of Jabbour.