Two Tennessee doctors each pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Doug Overbey of the Eastern District of Tennessee, Special Agent in Charge Joe Carrico of the FBI’s Knoxville Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and Director David Rausch of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation made the announcement.
Samuel Mcgaha, M.D., of Sevierville, Tennessee, and Frank McNiel, M.D., of Knoxville, Tennessee, each pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance.
The charges stem from Mcgaha’s and McNiel’s roles in prescribing high doses of opioids with no medical legitimacy – McNiel from his home. From 2015 until March 2018, Mcgaha and McNiel prescribed 212,226 and 59,712 opioid pills, respectively.
During this period, Mcgaha admittedly wrote opioid prescriptions that exceeded Centers for Disease Control guidelines and prescribed opioids even when patients tested positive for non-prescribed prescriptions and illicit substances.
McNiel admittedly wrote opioid prescriptions without evaluating patients and without obtaining medical records that would have justified the prescription of opioids. Sentencing has been scheduled for March 26, 2020, before the Honorable Thomas A. Varlan.
The FBI, HHS-OIG, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. Trial Attorney Louis Manzo of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Svolto of the Eastern District of Tennessee are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts, has charged more than 4,200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for nearly $19 billion.
In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.