June 29, 2020
Contact: Jennifer Vann
Phone Number: 312-353-7875
Indiana Doctor and Two Nurse Practitioners Arrested
CHICAGO – Special Agent in Charge Robert J. Bell, DEA Chicago Division, announced today that the DEA Merrillville Resident Office and their state and local counterparts arrested the following defendants: Geoffrey O. Onyeukwu, MD, 69, Gary, Indiana; Nurse Practitioner Akeem O. Kareem, 47, Crown Point, Indiana; and Nurse Practitioner Francis N. Nwawueze, 57, Merrillville, Indiana, for alleged illegal prescribing of controlled substances. The Office of Lake County, Indiana Prosecuting Attorney Bernard A. Carter, is prosecuting this investigation.
Since 2018, the DEA, collaborating with state and federal agencies, including the Office of the Indiana Attorney General and the U.S. Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) initiated an investigation into the medical practices of Dr. Onyeukwu, located in Gary and East Chicago, Indiana. During the course of this undercover investigation, numerous prescriptions for DEA controlled substances were issued by Dr. Onyeukwu, Nurse Practitioner Nwawueze and Nurse Practitioner Kareem outside the course of professional practice and without legitimate medical purpose.
Dr. Onyeukwu is charged with the following seven Indiana Felonies: Five Counts (Level 4 Felonies) of Dealing in a Controlled Substance by a Practitioner, in violation of Indiana Code (I.C.) § 35-48-4-1.5; and Two Counts (Level 6 Felonies) of Unlawful Possession or Use of a Legend Drug, in violation of I.C. §§ 16-42-19-13 / I.C. 16-42-19-27(a);
Nurse Practitioner Nwawueze is charged with the following seven Indiana Level 4 Felonies: Dealing in a Controlled Substance by a Practitioner, in violation of Indiana Code (I.C.) § 35-48-4-1.5; and Nurse Practitioner Kareem is charged with the following six Indiana Felonies: Five Counts (Level 4 Felonies) of Dealing in a Controlled Substance by a Practitioner, in violation of Indiana Code (I.C.) § 35-48-4-1.5; and one Count (Level 6 Felony) Use of a Fictitious Registration Number, in violation of § 35-48-4-14(b)(2).
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to remember we are still in the midst of a prescription drug crisis that is claiming the lives of thousands of United States citizens each year. It is of the utmost importance that physicians and nurse practitioners who illegally prescribe controlled substance medications be brought to justice,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Gannon. “The HHS-OIG, the Office of Indiana Attorney General, and the Lake County Prosecuting Attorney are to be commended for their cooperative work to hold healthcare providers accountable.”
“The harm caused by these narcotics poses a serious health hazard within our country. Drugs continue to be a very serious health problem and investigations like this are indicative of our efforts to turn the tide,” said Prosecuting Attorney Carter. “I would like to personally thank the DEA, the Indiana Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the Office of Indiana Attorney General, and the HHS Office of the Inspector General for their work in bringing these perpetrators to justice.”
“Addiction and substance abuse have devastated communities in Indiana and across the nation,” Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said. “The illegal prescribing of medications is one of many illicit practices that have contributed to the overall drug crisis, and we’re very pleased whenever our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit can work with our federal partners in an investigative role to help root out these kinds of crimes.”
The public is reminded that charges contain only accusations and are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the state has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.