Former Dona Ana County doctor sentenced to 108 months for conviction on unlawful distribution of prescription painkillers and health care fraud charges
Physician’s medical license revoked in 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Pawankumar Jain, 66, a former physician, was sentenced today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to 108 months in prison and three years of supervised release for unlawfully dispensing controlled substances and health care fraud. The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson, DEA El Paso Division Special Agent in Charge Kyle W. Williamson and FBI Albuquerque Division Special Agent in Charge James C. Langenberg.
Jain previously entered guilty pleas on Feb. 11, 2016, to one count of unlawfully dispensing a controlled substance and one count of health care fraud. In his plea agreement, Jain admitted that he previously was licensed to practice medicine in the state of New Mexico and was registered with the DEA to prescribe controlled substances, including pain medication. Jain admitted that for several years he operated a high-volume “pain management” practice in Las Cruces, and frequently performed only “cursory” examinations of his patients before prescribing narcotics to them without documenting any therapeutic benefit for those drugs in his records.
Jain specifically admitted examining one patient on Nov. 25, 2009, who is identified in the indictment as “M.E.B.” Jain admitted that he conducted only a superficial examination of M.E.B. before writing M.E.B. two prescriptions for methadone that were outside the usual course of medical practice and not for any legitimate medical purpose. Each prescription was for 270 tablets of 10 mg methadone. Jain further admitted that he committed health care fraud because he knew these unlawful prescriptions would be submitted to Medicare for payment and that he intended for Medicare to pay for the prescriptions.
Jain also acknowledged that M.E.B. died two days after filling the second methadone prescription. According to evidence at the sentencing hearing, M.E.B. died of respiratory depression due to the methadone Jain prescribed. The New Mexico Medical Board suspended Jain’s license in June 2012, and revoked his license in December 2012.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to working together to aggressively target and hold drug traffickers accountable – both those who distribute on the street, and those who traffic as physicians writing prescriptions for no legitimate medical purpose,” said U.S. Attorney Anderson. “Doctors who betray our trust and put their own financial gain ahead of the well-being of their patients by prescribing narcotics without medical justification are directly fueling our nation’s opioid crisis.”
“Doctors take an oath to treat and care for patients who come to them for help,” said Special Agent in Charge Williamson. “Dr. Jain ignored this oath and continued to overprescribe, which eventually resulted in the deaths of four patients. His sentencing today will send a message to other doctors that they are not above the law and DEA will continue to forcefully pursue and hold them accountable.”
“Patients must be able to trust their physician,” said Special Agent in Charge Langenberg. “This doctor not only violated that trust, but defrauded federal health care programs that many consumers depend on. The FBI hopes this case sends a message that this kind of criminal behavior by someone who should have put his patients’ well-being first will not be tolerated. We congratulate the DEA, U.S. Attorney's Office, the New Mexico Medical Board and the New Mexico Board of Pharmacy on a successful prosecution.”
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 was 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.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted this case as part of the Department of Justice’s commitment in partnership with other law enforcement to combat the illegal manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine, heroin and prescription opioids and to establish new programs to provide services to victims of the opioid crisis.
# # #