An Indian-American cardiologist from Elko, Nevada was arrested Dec. 12, on 39-charges of unlawful distribution of prescription opioids and Medicare and Medicaid fraud, announced U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions along with other law enforcement authorities.
Dr. Devendra I. Patel, aka Devendrakumar I. Patel, 58, of Elko, is charged with 36-counts of distribution of controlled substances such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, and three-counts of health care fraud. Patel is a cardiologist at his medical practice Northeastern Nevada Cardiology. The statutory maximum penalty for distribution of a controlled substance is 10 years in prison and the maximum penalty for health care fraud is 10 years in prison.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and Patel is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
According to the 39-count indictment, it is alleged that, from May 2014 to September 2017, Patel routinely prescribed fentanyl, hydrocodone, and oxycodone for his patients without a legitimate medical purpose and that he fraudulently billed Medicare and Medicaid for medical tests that he did not perform. The indictment alleges that Patel performed EKGs on his patients, so he could then order nuclear stress tests which he did not administer. He allegedly used a poorly calibrated machine and presented his patients with fraudulent X-Rays, in order to deceive his patients into thinking they had coronary issues that needed to be treated by him.
“Dr. Patel is the first person to be charged in Nevada since the formation of the Justice Department’s Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit,” Acting U.S. Attorney Myhre is quoted saying in a press release from the Justice Department.
More than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016. The majority of these deaths can be attributed to opioids, including illicit fentanyl, the Justice Department press release said.