Former Redirections doctor sentenced to home confinement for illegal prescriptions
A former employee of Redirections Treatment Advocates was sentenced in federal court this week to home confinement and probation for illegally prescribing a drug used to treat opioid addiction.
Michael Anthony Bummer, 40, of Sewickley, also was fined $20,000 and ordered to pay roughly $157,000 in restitution, prosecutors said.
U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said Bummer and other doctors at Redirections would routinely presign blank prescriptions for buprenorphine, and give those presigned prescriptions to medically unlicensed Redirections employees. Those employees would then complete the prescriptions and give them to patients in exchange for cash.
According to Brady, on numerous occasions the doctors were not at Redirections and did not examine patients who got the prescriptions. For example, on Aug. 17, 2016, a patient of Bummer’s received a prescription for buprenorphine despite the fact Bummer wasn’t in the office and didn’t see the patient.
Because the prescriptions were issued illegally, Medicare and Medicaid were defrauded when patients used their insurance to fill them, Brady said.
Bummer surrendered his license to prescribe controlled substances when he was confronted by an investigator, prosecutors said. A phone number listed for Bummer wasn’t in service on Wednesday.
Bummer was one of five doctors indicted in connection with unlawfully dispensing controlled substances and committing health care fraud at Redirections, which had operated five offices in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Four of the offices have closed. The clinic in Washington County, where Bummer worked, is still open.
The other indicted doctors were Dr. Krishan Kumar Aggarwal of Moon; Dr. Madhu Aggarwal of Moon; Dr. Parth Bharill of Pittsburgh; and Dr. Cherian John of Coraopolis.
Dr. Madhu Aggarwal in July was sentenced to probation and home confinement, as was Christopher Handa, an operations manager at the center. A jury in June acquitted Dr. Krishan Kumar Aggarwal and Dr. Cherian John on all charges.
Martin A. Dietz, the attorney for Redirections founder and owner Jennifer Hess, who pleaded guilty to helping illegally peddle drugs in May, told the Tribune-Review on Wednesday that “Redirections is committed to the proper treatment of opioid-addicted patients.”
In subsequent court documents, Dietz said Hess has instituted a new Suboxone treatment program at Redirections that makes it so prescriptions are no longer presigned or signed by anyone other than the prescribing doctor. No prescriptions are issued, he said, unless the doctor reviews the prescription at the time of intake or during follow-up appointments.
“It’s unfortunate that the doctors have been sentenced,” Dietz said Wednesday.
Hess is set to be sentenced on Oct. 30. Bharill’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 30.