APR 17 (LAS CRUCES, N.M.) –A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Pawan Kumar Jain, 61, of Las Cruces, N.M., with the unlawful dispensing of opioid pain medication and health care fraud charges, announced by Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit of the DEA’s El Paso Field Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, and Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division.
Jain was arrested without incidence earlier today by the DEA and FBI. He is scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court in Las Cruces at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow.
The 111-count indictment, which was publicly posted following Jain’s arrest, charges Jain with 61 counts of unlawfully dispensing controlled substances and 50 counts of health care fraud. According to the indictment, Jain allegedly committed the offenses charged between April 2009 and June 2010, in Doña Ana County, N.M. At the time, Jain was a licensed physician with a neurology subspecialty who operated a pain management medical practice in Las Cruces. Jain’s medical license was suspended in June 2012 and subsequently revoked in Dec. 2012 by the New Mexico Medical Board.
Each of the 61 dispensing charges alleges that Jain unlawfully dispensed prescription painkillers, primarily Oxycodone and methadone, to patients outside the usual course of medical practice and without a legitimate medical purpose. The maximum statutory penalty for a conviction on each of the 61 dispensing charges is 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.
The 50 health care fraud charges allege that Jain engaged in a scheme to defraud two health care benefit programs, Medicare and Medicaid, by submitting claims for payment for prescription medications he dispensed to patients outside the usual course of medical practice and without legitimate medical purpose. The maximum statutory penalty for a conviction on each of the health care fraud charges is ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In announcing the indictment, DEA Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit said, “The diversion and abuse of prescription opioids, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, threatens the health and safety of our communities and remains a serious concern for law enforcement. It is particularly concerning when a doctor, who is entrusted with the care and well-being of his patients, contributes to this problem by prescribing addictive pain killers in an unprofessional manner absent a legitimate medical purpose. By engaging in this illegal and irresponsible behavior, a medical practitioner violates the trust of those he has a duty to serve, and, most sadly, his actions can result in their death.”
Four counts in the indictment, Counts 1 through 4, expose Jain to enhanced sentencing because the criminal conduct charge allegedly resulted in the deaths of two patients. Counts 1 and 2 of the indictment allege that Jain’s unlawful dispensing of prescription painkillers and fraudulent conduct resulted in the death of a patient identified by the initials “M.E.B.” According to the indictment, Jain dispensed 540 tablets (40 mg) of Oxycodone and 405 tablets (10 mg) of methadone to M.E.B. between April 22, 2009 and Sept. 29, 2009. Counts 3 and 4 allege that Jain’s unlawful dispensing of prescription painkillers and fraudulent conduct resulted in the death of a patient identified by the initials “N.D.”
The statutory penalty for a conviction on each of Counts 1 and 3, which allege the unlawful dispensing of a controlled substance resulting in death, is a mandatory minimum 20 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison. The statutory penalty for a conviction on each of Counts 2 and 4, which allege health care fraud resulting in death, is life imprisonment.
“Health care fraud and unlawfully dispensing prescription drugs cost consumers, taxpayers and insurance companies billions of dollars,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee. “Sometimes, as this case alleges, these crimes can even kill. The FBI is proud to work alongside the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney's Office to make sure physicians who attempt to defraud the government, sometimes with fatal results, are held accountable.”
This case was investigated by the DEA’s Tactical Diversion Team in El Paso, Texas and the FBI’s Healthcare Fraud Unit with assistance from the New Mexico Medical Board and the New Mexico Board of Pharmacy. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah M. Davenport and Richard C. Williams of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.
DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squads combine DEA resources with those of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in an innovative effort to investigate, disrupt and dismantle those suspected of violating the Controlled Substances Act or other appropriate federal, state or local statutes pertaining to the diversion of licit pharmaceutical controlled substances or listed chemicals.
Charges in indictments are merely accusations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.The DEA El Paso Division encourages parents, and their children to visit the following interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.