El Paso Doctor Indicted for Distributing Controlled Substances and Health Care Fraud Resulting in Five Deaths
EL PASO – Today federal authorities arrested 60-year-old Dr. Brian James August of El Paso for allegedly committing health care fraud and distributing controlled substances that resulted in the overdose deaths of five individuals.
A 15-count federal grand jury indictment, unsealed upon his arrest, charges Dr. August with five counts of distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death or serious bodily injury, five counts of distribution of a controlled substance and five counts of health care fraud resulting in death. Upon conviction, Dr. August faces 20 years to life in federal prison for the drug charges resulting in death; up to 20 years in federal prison for each of the remaining drug charges; and up to life in federal prison for each of the health care fraud charges.
The indictment alleges that between December 2012 and March 2018, Dr. August, who practiced Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation aka “physiatry,” prescribed and dispensed controlled substances, including methadone, fentanyl, hydromorphone, morphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone, outside the usual course of medical practice and without legitimate medical purpose, resulting in the deaths of five victims. Dr. August is also alleged to have committed health care fraud by billing for services he did not perform.
Kyle Williamson, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA El Paso Division, U.S. Attorney Ashley Hoff, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Coburn of the FBI’s El Paso Division made the announcement.
“Doctors take an oath to do no harm,” said Kyle W. Williamson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s El Paso Division. “When doctors violate that oath by illegally distributing prescription drugs, their actions can kill. Stopping the illegal diversion of prescription drugs is a high priority for DEA, and we will continue to pursue such offenders, no matter who they are.”
The DEA and the FBI with assistance from the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, Texas Department of Public Safety Special Investigation Services and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of Texas Attorney General’s Office conducted this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation called “Operation Murder He Wrote.” OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Debra Kanof and Phillip Countryman are prosecuting this case. August remains in federal custody. His initial appearance is expected to take place at 2 p.m. tomorrow before U.S. Magistrate Judge Anne T. Berton in El Paso.
An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.