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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 9, 2017

Coeburn Doctor Pleads Guilty to Health Care Fraud, Distributing Ritalin

Gurcharan Kanwal Agrees to Surrender Medical License; Never Practice Medicine Again

Abingdon, VIRGINIA – A Coeburn, Virginia doctor, who prescribed Ritalin and hydrocodone to an undercover investigator without a legitimate medical purpose, pleaded guilty today to federal health care fraud and drug distribution charges, Acting United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced.

 

Gurcharan Singh Kanwal, 78, of Wise, Va., pleaded guilty this afternoon to one count of health care fraud and one count of distributing Ritalin and hydrocodone. As part of his plea agreement, Kanwal has also agreed to surrender his medical license and never reapply for a medical license. In addition, he has agreed to pay $472,500 in restitution to the Virginia Medicaid program.

 

According to evidence presented at today’s guilty plea hearing by Special Assistant United States Attorney and Assistant Attorney General M. Suzanne Kerney-Quillen, between September 19, 2016 and February 22, 2017, the defendant knowingly distributed Ritalin and hydrocodone, without a legitimate medical purpose and beyond the bounds of medical practice to an undercover investigator. Kanwal also fraudulently billed Virginia Medicaid for services provided to the investigator, which were not medically necessary or not actually received.   

 

An investigation into Kanwal and the Coeburn Medical Clinic began after agents received complaints that controlled substances were being diverted by employees and patients of Dr. Kanwal. Agents also learned that Kanwal was believed to prescribe controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the course of his professional practice. During the summer of 2015, the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force began an official investigation into Kanwal. During the course of the investigation, an undercover investigator visited Kanwal’s office as a patient and obtained prescriptions from Kanwal for Ritalin and hydrocodone, without a legitimate medical purpose and beyond the bounds of medical practice.

 

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Virginia Office of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force.  Agencies that provided assistance during the execution of a search warrant in this case included the City of Norton Police Department, Big Stone Gap Police Department, Coeburn Police Department, Dickenson County Sheriff’s Office, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Scott County Sheriff’s Office, Tazewell County Drug Task Force, Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Virginia State Police, Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Wise County Sheriff’s Office, Wise Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.  Special Assistant United States Attorney and Assistant Attorney General M. Suzanne Kerney-Quillen is prosecuting the case for the United States.

Updated November 9, 2017