Doctor, nurse practitioners indicted in ongoing Montgomery pill mill case

Doctor, nurse practitioners indicted in ongoing Montgomery pill mill case

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Court records indicate four employees of a Montgomery doctor's office have been indicted in an ongoing pill mill investigation.

Lillian Akwuba, Julio Delgado, Steven Cox and Elizabeth Cronier were indicted on 87 combined counts connected to the largest pill mill prosecution in Alabama's Middle District.

Dr. Gilberto Sanchez was initially indicted and arrested for his involvement in running a pill mill out of his office, Family Practice. Sanchez pleaded guilty to five counts of information last week. During that hearing, prosecutors said Sanchez was fueling the opioid epidemic by prescribing unnecessary medications to those who were addicted to opioids and ordering medical tests and therapy for financial gain.

New indictments include employees of Family Practice, who are charged with multiple counts for their alleged involvement in prescribing medications such as fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, alprazolam, and other medications for "no legitimate medical purposes" and aiding and abetting the distribution of controlled substances.

The indictment also states the defendants devised a scheme alongside Sanchez to defraud healthcare benefit programs by ordering tests and procedures under "materially false and fraudulent pretenses" and diagnosing the patients with vague and unsubstantiated medical conditions.

The healthcare plans that were reportedly defrauded through this scheme include: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, VIVA Medicare Plus, Alabama Medicaid Agency, Alabama Public Education Employees' Health Insurance Plan, and UnitedHealth Group, INC.

Court documents indicate those who were illegally prescribed controlled substances were forced to come in every 30 days for an office visit to receive more medication.

"After performing these unnecessary office visits, the defendants would bill and cause to be billed the health care benefit programs providing health insurance to the patients for the office visits," the indictment stated. "Each office visit resulted in a bill of around $75.00."

The business model reportedly brought in millions for the practice.  Following Sanchez's arrest, paychecks bounced for employees on three different occasions.

"The practice was a lucrative business venture," the indictment stated. "In 2014, the practice earned gross receipts of or about $4,352,352.63. In 2015, the practice earned gross receipts of or about $3,292.549.40. In 2016, the practice earned gross receipts of or about $3,087,530.25.

Defendants and charges:

Lillian Akwuba, nurse practitioner:

  1. Conspiracy to distribute controlled substance
  2. Attempt and conspiracy to commit mail fraud
  3. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  4. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  5. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  6. Controlled substance: sell, distribute or dispense
  7. Health care fraud: aiding and abetting
  8. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  9. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  10. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  11. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  12. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  13. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  14. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  15. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  16. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  17. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  18. Controlled substance: sell, distribute, or dispense
  19. Money laundering – interstate commerce
  20. Interstate Commerce; aiding and abetting
  21. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  22. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  23. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  24. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  25. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  26. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  27. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  28. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting

Julio Delgado, doctor:

  1. Conspiracy to distribute controlled substance
  2. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  3. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  4. Attempt and conspiracy to commit mail fraud
  5. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  6. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  7. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  8. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  9. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  10. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  11. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  12. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  13. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  14. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  15. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  16. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  17. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense
  18. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  19. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  20. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  21. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  22. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting

Steven Edward Cox, nurse practitioner

  1. Conspiracy to distribute controlled substance
  2. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  3. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  4. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  5. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  6. Attempt and conspiracy to commit mail fraud
  7. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  8. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  9. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense
  10. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  11. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  12. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  13. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  14. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  15. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  16. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  17. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  18. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  19. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  20. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  21. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  22. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  23. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  24. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting

Elizabeth Cronier, nurse practitioner

  1. Conspiracy to distribute controlled substance
  2. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  3. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  4. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  5. Attempt and conspiracy to commit mail fraud
  6. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  7. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense
  8. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  9. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  10. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  11. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  12. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  13. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  14. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  15. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting

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