Redirections Treatment Owner Charged with Unlawfully Distributing Buprenorphine and Defrauding Medicare and Medicaid
PITTSBURGH, PA – The owner of Redirections Treatment Advocates, LLC, an opioid addiction treatment practice with offices in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, has been indicted on charges of unlawfully dispensing controlled substances and health care fraud, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady of the Western District of Pennsylvania and United States Attorney William J. Powell of the Northern District of West Virginia announced today. This indictment is the eleventh in a series of charges filed in western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia since Attorney General Jeff 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 47-count indictment, returned on June 5, and unsealed Friday, names Jennifer Hess, 49, of Washington, Pennsylvania.
According to the indictment, Hess is the owner of Redirections Treatment Advocates, LLC, an opioid addiction treatment center with multiple locations in western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia. The indictment alleges Hess aided five physicians on multiple occasions with unlawfully dispensing buprenorphine, also known as Suboxone and Subutex, a drug that should be used to treat individuals with addiction. The indictment also charges Hess with conspiracy to unlawfully distribute buprenorphine. Finally, the indictment charges Hess with health care fraud for allegedly causing fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicare and Medicaid for payments to cover the costs of the unlawfully prescribed buprenorphine.
“Combatting the opioid epidemic in western Pennsylvania is the number one priority of this Office. We are aggressively prosecuting doctors and medical professionals who would exploit others’ addiction for their own financial gain,” said U.S. Attorney Brady. “As detailed in this indictment, RTA owner Jennifer Hess operated a network of addiction treatment clinics – which could be helping those in their hour of greatest need – as a cash business, and then committed health care fraud. This Office will continue to protect those suffering from opioid abuse disorder from this illegal and unethical conduct.”
“We look forward to continuing our partnership with our colleagues in the Western District of Pennsylvania. The Northern District of West Virginia has been seriously affected by health care providers who violate federal law. Our citizens have suffered at their hands long enough. We will continue to aggressively prosecute those who choose to violate the law,” said U.S. Attorney Bill Powell, Northern District of West Virginia.
“The health care system is a critical piece of our nation's infrastructure,” said Acting FBI Special Agent in Charge Chad Yarbrough. “Individuals alleged to have defrauded health care programs place additional burdens and costs on the health care system, which affects every American citizen. The FBI views this crime as a severe problem and today's arrest sends a clear message that we are dedicated to stopping this type of activity.”
Hess faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each of the 45 counts charging her with unlawfully dispensing Schedule III controlled substances, a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $1 million for the single count charging her with conspiracy to unlawfully dispense a Schedule III controlled substance, and a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for the single count charging her 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 Attorneys Robert S. Cessar and Michael L. Ivory of the Western District of Pennsylvania and Assistant United States Attorney Sarah E. Wagner of the Northern District of West Virginia are prosecuting these cases on behalf of the United States.
The investigation leading to this indictment 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.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.