Indian-American physicians charged with unlawful drug distribution and medical fraud

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Five physicians, four of them Indian-Americans, with offices in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, have been indicted on charges of unlawfully dispensing controlled substances and health care fraud.

All the physicians belong to Redirections Treatment Advocates, LLC, an opioid addiction treatment practice that operates Suboxone clinics in several locations in western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia.

Those charged with the alleged offenses include  Dr. Krishan Kumar Aggarwal, 73, of Moon Township, Pennsylvania, a contractor at RTA in Weirton, West Virginia; Dr. Madhu Aggarwal, 68, of Moon Township, Pennsylvania, a contractor at RTA in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania; Dr. Parth Bharill, 69, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a contractor at RTA in Morgantown, West Virginia; Dr. Cherian John, 65, of Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, a contractor at RTA in Weirton, West Virginia. Also accused is  Dr. Michael Bummer, 38, of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, a contractor at RTA in Washington, Pennsylvania.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The charges against them were announced May 3, in Washington, D.C., by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions as well as officials of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

According to the indictments outlined in a Justice Department press release, the defendants, working as contractors at various locations, allegedly created and distributed unlawful prescriptions for buprenorphine, known as Subutex and Suboxone, a drug that should be used to treat individuals with addiction.  The defendants are also charged with conspiracy to unlawfully distribute buprenorphine.  Finally, the defendants are charged with health care fraud for allegedly causing fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicare or Medicaid for payments to cover the costs of the unlawfully prescribed buprenorphine.

For each of the defendants, if convicted, the law provides a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each of the counts charging unlawfully dispensing Schedule III controlled substances;  a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $1 million for each of the counts charging conspiracy to unlawfully dispense a Schedule III controlled substance; and a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for each of the counts charging health care fraud.