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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 16, 2018

Pittsburgh Doctor Charged with Unlawfully Dispensing Vicodin and Defrauding the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health Plan

PITTSBURGH, PA - A Pittsburgh radiologist has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of unlawfully dispensing controlled substances and health care fraud, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today. This indictment is the second in Western Pennsylvania since Attorney General Sessions announced the formation of the 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.

The 88-count indictment, returned on March 14, 2018 and unsealed today following his arrest, charge Omar A. Almusa, 45, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

According to indictment, Almusa conspired to create and submit unlawful prescriptions for Vicodin and then unlawfully dispensed those controlled substances to other persons without a legitimate medical purpose. Almusa is also charged with health care fraud for allegedly submitting fraudulent claims to UPMC Health Plan, for payments to cover the costs of the unlawfully prescribed Vicodin.

"One of the main causes of our nation’s drug crisis is the diversion of prescription painkillers," said Attorney General Sessions. "That’s why, last summer, I sent a dozen of our top federal prosecutors to focus solely on the problem of opioid-related health care fraud where the drug epidemic was at its worst--including Western Pennsylvania. Within three months, they were already issuing indictments. Now we take the next step of indicting a defendant who allegedly spent three years distributing massive quantities of Vicodin on an illegal and fraudulent basis with no medical justification whatsoever. By shutting off the flow of these potentially addictive pills to our streets, this case, and the dozens more we will prosecute across the country, can save lives."

"If you are abusing the great privilege you have to serve your neighbors in the medical profession or if you are exploiting the weakness and addiction of others, we are coming after you with the full weight and resources of the federal government," said U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady. "We will take away your livelihood and then we will take away your liberty."

"One of the goals of the Health Care Fraud Task Force is to identify and target doctors who are illegally prescribing dangerous drugs and putting people at risk in our community," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Johnson. "The FBI views this crime as a severe problem and today's arrest sends a clear message that we, along with our law enforcement and industry partners, are dedicated to stopping this type of activity."

Almusa faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million for each of the 86 counts charging him with unlawfully dispensing Schedule II controlled substances, a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $1 million for the one count charging him with conspiracy to unlawfully dispense a Schedule II controlled substance, and a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for the one count charging him with health care fraud. 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 is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The investigation leading to the indictment 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, Unites 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 Inspector General and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Licensing.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Topic(s): 
Prescription Drugs
Health Care Fraud
Updated March 16, 2018