Over $1.1M in Civil Settlements Reaffirm DOJ’s Commitment to Preventing Opioid Abuse
(STL.News) The United States Attorney’s Office has collected $792,000 in civil penalties as two more civil Controlled Substances Act (CSA) investigations have settled, announced U.S. Attorney Gregg N. Sofer and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Steven S. Whipple, Houston Division. These civil settlements, coupled with the Town & Country Drug, Inc. settlement, total $1,112,000.00 in agreed civil penalties obtained in the district in the past two months stemming from investigations in Austin, San Antonio and Odessa. These settlements reflect DOJ’s ongoing commitment to addressing the opioid crisis by preventing, detecting and investigating the diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals from legitimate sources.
“We depend on pharmacies and medical providers following the CSA’s recordkeeping requirements so that the DEA can carry out its critical mission of preventing the diversion of controlled substances,” said U.S. Attorney Sofer. “This office recognizes the devastating impact the diversion and improper use of controlled substances has on communities throughout this district. These cases affirm our commitment to using all avenues of enforcement to protect the health and safety of our citizens.”
“These settlements should remind pharmacies and medical providers that they, too, must adhere to federal laws designed to ensure the safe and legal dispensation of pharmaceutical drugs,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Whipple. “These cases demonstrate DEA’s commitment to using all available tools to combat our nation’s opioid overdose crisis and reduce the illegal diversion of pharmaceutical opioids.”
MedMark Treatment Centers of Texas Pays $412,500.00
MedMark Treatment Centers of Texas, Inc., dba MedMark Treatment Centers San Antonio Military (MedMark), has paid a $412,500.00 penalty under a civil settlement to resolve allegations that it violated certain provisions of the CSA. MedMark is registered as a Narcotic Treatment Program in Schedules II and III controlled substances. MedMark operates outpatient treatment centers for opioid addiction in Texas, including a location on Military Drive West in San Antonio.
After undertaking an investigation of the Military Drive West facility in 2019, the United States contended that it had claims against MedMark for civil penalties under the CSA, including that MedMark allowed non-medical staff to repeatedly dispense controlled substances to patients in violation of the CSA. Further, the DEA contended that MedMark was in violation of recordkeeping provisions, including failing to maintain complete and accurate records, failing to maintain a current power of attorney, and failing to keep its records in a readily retrievable manner. These requirements are intended to prevent the diversion of controlled substances for illegal purposes. MedMark has made no admission of civil liability.
The DEA’s Diversion Group in the San Antonio District Office led this investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Deck handled this affirmative civil enforcement matter on behalf of the government.
Ascension Seton Pays $379,500.00
Ascension Seton, on behalf of Ascension Seton Medical Center-Austin (ASMC-Austin), has paid a $379,500.00 penalty under a civil settlement to resolve allegations that it violated certain provisions of the CSA. ASMC-Austin is a hospital with advanced specialty care services.
Following a 2018 theft of controlled substances from the ASMC-Austin facility located on West 98th Street in Austin, DEA conducted an inspection and found inventory shortages, discrepancies in the facility’s pharmacy records and deficiencies in recordkeeping practices. The United States contended it had claims against ASMC-Austin for civil penalties under the CSA for record keeping violations, failure to maintain effective controls, and failure to timely report any theft or significant loss of controlled substances. ASMC-Austin has made no admission of civil liability.
The DEA’s Diversion Group in the San Antonio District Office conducted this investigation while Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin M. Van De Walle handled this affirmative civil enforcement matter on behalf of the government.