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Press Release

Coeburn Doctor Sentenced on Healthcare Fraud, Drug Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia

Abingdon, VIRGINIA – A Coeburn physician, who prescribed Ritalin and hydrocodone to an undercover investigator, will serve two years’ probation, pay a $25,000 fine, surrender his medical license and pay $945,000 in restitution and forfeiture, announced United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.

Gurcharan Singh Kanwal, 82, of Wise, Va., was sentenced last week in the United States District Court after previously pleading guilty to one count of healthcare fraud and one count of distributing Ritalin and hydrocodone. In addition to surrendering his medical license, Kanwal agreed to never reapply for a medical license.

After receiving numerous complaints that controlled substances were being diverted by employees and patients at the Coeburn Medical Clinic, agents with the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force opened a formal investigation into Kanwal. During the course of the investigation, an undercover agent visited Kanwal’s practice as a patient and obtained prescriptions for Ritalin and hydrocodone without a legitimate medical purpose and beyond the bounds of medical practice. The investigation also revealed that Kanwal fraudulently billed Virginia Medicaid $472,500 for services provided that were not medically necessary or not actually provided.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Big Stone Gap Police Department, City of Norton Police Department, Southwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force, the Virginia Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and Virginia State Police.  The following agencies also assisted with the execution of a search warrant in connection with the investigation:  Bristol, Virginia Police Department, Buena Vista Police Department, Coeburn Police Department, Dickenson County Sheriff’s Office, Drug Enforcement Administration, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Martinsville Police Department, Richlands Police Department, Scott County Sheriff’s Office, Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office, Tazewell Police Department, UVA-Wise Police Department, Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Wise County Sheriff’s Office, Wise Police Department, and the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.  Special Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Kerney-Quillen, a Virginia Assistant Attorney General assigned to the Attorney General’s Major Crimes and Emerging Threats Section, and Special Assistant Janine M. Myatt, a Virginia Assistant Attorney General assigned to the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, prosecuted the case for the United States.

Updated March 22, 2018