Tennessee Woman Pleads Guilty To Defrauding Pittsburgh Company
PITTSBURGH – A Tennessee woman has pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of mail fraud, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
Elizabeth “Betsy” Pope, 49, of Loudon, TN, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose.
According to the information presented to the court, Pope was in business to assist trucking companies with compliance and testing of their commercial truck drivers pursuant to the Drug and Alcohol Testing Program of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The program includes pre-employment and random testing, testing for cause and post-accident testing. The Pittsburgh-based victim is InTransit, LLC, an administrative and service company for several national transport companies. InTransit used Pope d/b/a Eastgate Laboratory Testing as a third party administrator to handle the DOT drug and alcohol testing for them. DOT regulations require that a percentage of negative tests and all positive drug or alcohol tests must be reviewed by a licensed doctor, known under the DOT regulations as a Medical Review Officer (MRO), to oversee the program and determine if there were any innocent reasons why a test was positive. On all FMCSA and DOT required paperwork Pope, without authority or permission, used a computer generated signature of a doctor who had previously worked for her as an MRO for a short time predating the charges in the indictment to create the impression that he had done the necessary oversight and reviews when he had not. The fraud came to light when a commercial truck driver with 18 years of experience tried to contact the MRO after his pre-employment drug test reported as “diluted” for three consecutive tests. When he was unable to get the contact information from Pope for the MRO, he searched for the MRO on the internet. The MRO in turn contacted InTransit to report the unauthorized use of his name. InTransit conducted an internal investigation and referred the matter to the Inspector General for the Department of Transportation. Pope billed InTransit as though her company had actually performed the all required services, causing InTransit to send her checks totaling approximately $109,000.
Judge Ambrose scheduled the sentencing for Nov. 4, 2014. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both. 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 Nelson P. Cohen is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government. The U.S. Department of Transportation-OIG conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Elizabeth Pope.