SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Anchorage Doctor Pleads Guilty for Prescribing Medically Unnecessary Opioids in Health Care Fraud Scheme

As Part of Scheme, Physician received Portion of the Drugs and Profited from the Medicaid Claims


August 05, 2019
Monday PM

(SitNews) Anchorage, Alaska - U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced that Michael Don Robertson, 67, an Anchorage physician, pleaded guilty last week before U.S. District Judge Sharon L. Gleason, to one count of conspiracy to commit controlled substance fraud and one count of health care fraud.  Robertson knowingly and intentionally distributed controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose. 

According to court documents, from May 2015 to March 2018, Robertson issued 465 prescriptions of meperidine to 30 different recipients, totaling 32,109 meperidine pills, knowing that the recipients did not truly need the medication for a legitimate medical purpose.  The investigation revealed that Robertson issued the meperidine prescriptions as part of a conspiracy in which the recipients filled the meperidine prescriptions and, then, distributed the meperidine to Robertson.  In exchange for the recipients diverting the meperidine to Robertson, Robertson provided prescriptions for controlled substances, including fentanyl and oxycodone, to the recipients.  Meperidine, commonly known as Demerol, is a Schedule II controlled substance, and is an opioid with an abuse liability similar to morphine. 

The investigation further revealed that Robertson failed to make and preserve accurate records regarding approximately 790 prescriptions for controlled substances, and failed to keep any medical records whatsoever regarding five patients to whom he wrote prescriptions for controlled substances.  In a scheme to obtain money from Medicaid, Robertson caused claims to be submitted to Medicaid regarding these 790 prescriptions, resulting in Medicaid paying $3,286.87 to Robertson’s medical practice.  Further, Medicaid paid $3,601.52 to pharmacies for these 790 controlled substance prescriptions. 

“The diversion of prescription drugs is a significant cause of the opioid crisis,” said U.S. Attorney Schroder.  “It is especially disappointing when the pills are diverted from appropriate medical use by physicians – those we trust to protect the health of the public.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with our partners in the DEA, will do our job to protect the public by investigating and prosecuting all violators.”

The sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 25, 2019, in Anchorage.  Robertson faces a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or both, on the charges.  Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant. 

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducted the investigation leading to the charges in this case.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonas M. Walker.



Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

U.S. Dept of Justice - Alaska District



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