Federal and state authorities continue to crackdown aggressively on allegations of wrongfully prescribing pain medication like opioids. It is important for practices throughout the state to be aware of this trend and make sure prescription practices are in line with applicable regulations. A failure to do so can result in serious consequences, as highlighted in a recent case.
In this case, the United States Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Texas announced the sentencing of a local physician for unlawful distribution of opioids. The prosecution was able to build a successful case against the doctor, providing enough evidence to show that it was not uncommon for the physician to provide patients with a prescription for opioid medications with little to no examination. The government claims the physician and his group wrote more than 20,000 such prescriptions over a course of two years.
Upon review, the court sentenced Dr. Alfonso Luevano to more than 10 years imprisonment, an additional 3 years supervised release, over $100,000 in restitution, and an additional $10,000 fine. He has also forfeited his Texas medical license.
The government also built a case against others within his practice. These include:
- Nurse practitioner. Two NPs with the practice were also implicated and were sentenced to over a year of imprisonment.
- Physician assistant. The group’s PA got more than two years imprisonment.
There are three important lessons from this case.
- The government can look back. Although there are some limitations, the government can look back and prosecute for wrongdoings from the past. This case was the result of an investigation of care provided more than 5 years ago.
- Charges can span the entire practice. Anyone connected with the prescriptions could face criminal charges.
- Imprisonment is possible. Courts will include imprisonment as a penalty for these types of fraud cases.
It is also important to note that physicians and their practices do not need to go through this process on their own. You have the right to legal counsel. An attorney can advocate for your interests and better ensure your rights are protected throughout the process.
Attorney John Rivas is responsible for this communication