April 19, 2016
Contact: Special Agent Cheryl Davis
Phone Number: (313) 234-4000
Detroit Area Doctor Charged With Illegal Distribution Of Prescription Drugs And Fraud
DETROIT - An indictment was unsealed today charging a doctor and three other individuals with conspiracy to illegally distribute prescription drugs, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.
McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Plancon from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’(DEA) Detroit Field Division, and Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General.
Charged in the indictment are:
Dr. Michael Weiss, D.O. 63, of Troy
Edgarten Howard, 43, of Detroit
Carlos Johnson, 40, of Detroit
Ricky Easley, 30, of Detroit
The indictment alleges that from January 2013, through April 2015, Weiss conspired with the other defendants to write a large number of prescriptions for highly addictive controlled substances for supposed patients, who did not have a legitimate medical need for the drugs. Weiss primarily prescribed Roxicodone and its generic equivalent, oxycodone, and promethazine cough syrup. He saw the purported patients in Howard’s home, where Howard, Johnson, and Easley paid Weiss cash for his services. Howard, Johnson, and Easley then obtained the drugs that Weiss authorized through the prescriptions, and sold them on the street.
The indictment alleges that Weiss caused Medicare to pay more than $250,000, and Blue Cross almost $40,000, for the illegitimate prescriptions. The indictment also alleges that Weiss submitted about 950 claims to Medicare and Blue Cross for providing services to the supposed patients, although Weiss never actually provided the services. Weiss received about $65,000 through the fraudulent bills.
“Diversion of prescription pills to the street market promotes the addiction to painkillers that leads to overdose deaths,” McQuade said. “We are focusing on charging doctors, pharmacists and the networks that are putting this poison on the streets.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Plancon stated, “This indictment is just one example of DEA's determination and commitment to combat the troubling prescription drug abuse problem in this country. The doctor involved in this investigation abused his position of trust and jeopardized the lives of many individuals by leading this conspiracy to distribute dangerous controlled substances onto the streets of southeast Michigan and beyond. This indictment should make it clear that the DEA and our law enforcement partners are focused on investigating and pursuing those that are illegally diverting prescription drugs into our communities.”
"Physicians have a responsibility to provide care that is medically necessary and is in the best interest of their patients" said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. "Physicians who facilitate and contribute to the illegal diversion of prescription medications will be held accountable."
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by special agents and task force officers of the DEA and HHS-OIG. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynn Helland. -