PITTSBURGH – A Greensburg physician was sentenced in federal court today for three counts of distribution of buprenorphine, a Schedule III controlled substance; one count of health care fraud; and one count of money laundering, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced.
Nabil Jabbour, 69, a physician who previously operated an addiction-treatment practice out of offices in Greensburg and Connellsville, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to twelve months and one day in prison followed by one year of supervised release. Jabbour was also ordered to pay a $75,000 fine and a total of $40,000 in restitution to Medicare and the Pennsylvania Medicaid program. He will also forfeit approximately $17,000 in previously seized cash and casino chips.
"As a physician, Nabil Jabbour took an oath to uphold the ethical standards of his profession; instead, he operated a cash-only business that took advantage of vulnerable patients seeking help for their opioid addiction so that he could spend their money at casinos," said U.S. Attorney Brady. "We will continue our steady pursuit to bring drug-dealing doctors to justice."
"We trust our doctors to carefully and thoughtfully write prescriptions, not use their access to profit off of highly addictive medications meant to treat opioid addiction - an addiction that steals the lives of 12 Pennsylvanians a day," said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. "Dr. Jabbour admitted to unlawfully prescribing buprenorphine on multiple occasions for cash. My office and our partners in law enforcement will continue to hold individuals accountable who recklessly put the lives of others at risk for their own personal gain."
During his plea hearing on October 28, 2019, 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 or otherwise displayed symptoms of withdrawal. 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 Pennsylvania Medicaid, two government-funded healthcare programs, to cover the costs of fraudulent buprenorphine prescriptions that he wrote for his patients. Finally, Jabbour also admitted 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, Jabbour also accepted responsibility for unlawfully distributing buprenorphine to undercover officers on fourteen additional occasions, maintaining his office locations in Greensburg and Connellsville as drug-involved premises, and laundering approximately $47,000 in cash from his buprenorphine practice during four additional trips to the Meadows Casino. Jabbour also agreed that he was responsible for between 10,000 and 20,000 dosage units of unlawful buprenorphine prescriptions.
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.