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Allegheny

Johnstown doctor pleads guilty to illegally prescribing drugs

Chuck Biedka
| Monday, Nov. 19, 2018, 5:45 p.m.
This Aug. 29, 2018 photo shows an arrangement of prescription Oxycodone pills in New York. Figures from a 2017 survey released on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, show fewer people used heroin for the first time compared to the previous year, and fewer Americans misusing or addicted to prescription opioid painkillers. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
This Aug. 29, 2018 photo shows an arrangement of prescription Oxycodone pills in New York. Figures from a 2017 survey released on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, show fewer people used heroin for the first time compared to the previous year, and fewer Americans misusing or addicted to prescription opioid painkillers. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

A Johnstown physician pleaded guilty Monday in federal district court Pittsburgh to illegally prescribing a drug intended to treat addiction.

Ruth D. Jones, 57, of Bedford, pleaded guilty to distribution of controlled substances, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and health care fraud, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Scott Brady.

Prosecutors said Jones illegally distributed prescriptions for buprenorphine, a drug that can stave off symptoms of opioid withdrawal and reduce cravings. The drug is marketed under names including Suboxone and Subutex.

Jones pleaded guilty to a conspiracy with co-defendant Dr. Michael Cash to create and distribute illegal prescriptions for buprenorphine. Jones also pleaded guilty to health care fraud for allegedly submitting fraudulent claims to Medicare, prosecutors said.

According to the government, Jones and Cash saw an average of 43 patients a day for periods lasting no longer than three to five minutes each. Investigators found more than 2,000 blank, pre-signed prescriptions by Jones and Cash, prosecutors said.

Jones is scheduled to be sentenced on March 20.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.

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