November 08, 2017
Contact: Brian McNeal
Phone Number: (571) 362-1498
Michigan Physician Sentenced To Federal Prison For Writing Fraudulent Prescriptions To Obtain Controlled Substances
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced that on Monday, November 6, 2017, Mark Edward Brewster, M.D., of Traverse City, Michigan, was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison. The sentence followed Brewster’s pleading guilty to writing fraudulent prescriptions to obtain controlled substances. Brewster will also pay restitution to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which paid for a number of Brewster’s fraudulent prescriptions. Brewster further surrendered his DEA registration to federal authorities as part of this investigation.
A federal investigation revealed that between 2006 and 2015, Brewster wrote over 150 fraudulent prescriptions in the names of seven different people in order to obtain quantities of Ritalin, a Schedule II controlled substance that ultimately exceeded five times the maximum FDA-approved adult dosage. Brewster started issuing fraudulent prescriptions before he graduated from medical school, wrote fraudulent prescriptions while he was on state court probation for a domestic violence conviction, and continued writing fraudulent prescriptions after being fired by a northern Michigan hospital for his prescribing practices.
When Brewster’s prescriptions to his girlfriend became the subject of a state licensing investigation in 2015, he assured state investigators that, going forward, there was "zero chance" he would write prescriptions for anyone other than his patients. Brewster continued writing fraudulent prescriptions the very next day and concealed those prescriptions by writing them in the names of his girlfriend’s minor children and others who were unknown to licensing investigators.
During his nearly decade-long prescription fraud, Brewster boasted, in text messages, that he was "[s]ticking it to the man" by having some of his fraudulent prescriptions paid for by other people’s private insurance. Brewster also falsified progress notes in a patient’s medical record to cover other fraudulent prescriptions. When he became aware of the federal investigation, Brewster instructed people not to tell the DEA anything about his fraudulent prescriptions.
At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney described Brewster’s crime as "a product of the doctor’s arrogance" and noted that Brewster caused a number of otherwise law-abiding people to become involved in felonious conduct. The sentence, Judge Maloney said, should deter other health care professionals who might consider illegally abusing their prescribing authorities to obtain drugs for themselves or others.
In connection with this investigation, Brewster’s girlfriend, Nicole Aiello, R.N., also pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting Brewster in illegally obtaining controlled substances. Aiello will be sentenced on January 5, 2018. To date, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has further recovered $46,200.00 in civil penalties from other individuals who filled fraudulent prescriptions and returned controlled substances to Brewster.
"The U.S. Attorney’s Office will aggressively use all available criminal, civil, and administrative remedies when health care professionals abuse their licenses to illegally prescribe controlled substances for themselves or others," Acting U.S. Attorney Birge said. "The national epidemic of prescription drug abuse warrants the serious attention that we give this conduct."
This case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement (DEA), Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam B. Townshend and Raymond E. Beckering III.