(STL.News) – A Tennessee medical doctor and an advanced practice registered nurse were charged in an indictment unsealed today for their roles 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 Atlanta Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Special Agent in Charge M.A. “Mo” Myers of the FBI’s Memphis Field Office and Director David B. Rausch of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) made the announcement.
Hemal V. Mehta, M.D., 49, of Brentwood, Tennessee, and Heather L. Marks, APRN, 36, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, were charged in an indictment filed Oct. 23, 2019, in the Middle District of Tennessee with one count of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute controlled substances and nine counts of unlawful distribution of controlled substances.
According to the indictment, between 2016 and 2018, Mehta and Marks, whom Mehta supervised, conspired to distribute Schedule II controlled substances, including oxycodone, morphine sulfate and oxymorphone, to patients outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose. Mehta and Marks also allegedly dispensed and distributed oxycodone and oxymorphone on various occasions between 2016 and 2018.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The FBI, HHS-OIG and TBI investigated the case. Trial Attorney William M. Grady of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the case
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.