Former Tennessee Doctor Darrel Rinehart Pleads Guilty to Unlawfully Distributing Controlled Substances

(STL.News) – A medical doctor who formerly practiced in Tennessee pleaded guilty today for his role in unlawfully distributing controlled substances.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Don Cochran of the Middle District of Tennessee, Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Atlanta Field Office and Director David B. Rausch of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) made the announcement.

Darrel R. Rinehart M.D., 64, of Indianapolis, Indiana, formerly of Columbia, Tennessee, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful distribution of controlled substances before Chief U.S. District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw Jr. of the Middle District of Tennessee. Sentencing has been scheduled for July 30, 2020, before Chief Judge Crenshaw.

Pursuant to his guilty plea, Rinehart admitted that in January 2016 he knowingly distributed hydrocodone, a Schedule II controlled substance, to a patient who did not have any significant underlying health issues justifying such a prescription.  He further admitted to distributing Schedule II controlled substances, primarily opioids, to four different patients without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the course of professional practice on 18 other occasions between December 2014 and December 2015.

The HHS-OIG, TBI and the District Attorney General for the Tennessee’s 22nd Judicial District investigated the case.  Assistant Chief Kilby Macfadden and Trial Attorney William M. Grady of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case

The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.  Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts, has charged more than 4,200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for nearly $19 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

The Fraud Section leads the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid (ARPO) Strike Force.  Since its inception in October 2018, the ARPO Strike Force, which operates in 10 districts, has charged more than 70 defendants who are collectively responsible for distributing more than 40 million pills.  The Health Care Fraud Unit, in general, maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts, and has charged nearly 4,200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $15 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Individuals who believe that they may be a victim in this case should visit the Fraud Section’s Victim Witness website for more information.

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