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Westmoreland

Mt. Pleasant doctor charged with fraud, illegal prescriptions

Paul Peirce
| Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, 2:15 p.m.
Abuse of painkillers, heroin, fentanyl and other opioids across the country has resulted in tens of thousands of children being taken from their homes and placed in the foster care system.
Patrick Sison/AP
Abuse of painkillers, heroin, fentanyl and other opioids across the country has resulted in tens of thousands of children being taken from their homes and placed in the foster care system.

A well-known Mt. Pleasant family physician is expected to plead guilty next month after he was charged this week with illegally prescribing drugs, money laundering and health care fraud over a six-year period.

Dr. Mamdouh El-Attrache, 73, was charged in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh this week with fraudulently using his office on East Main Street to provide prescriptions serving no medical purpose and illegally distributing drugs including hydrocodone, methadone, fentanyl and buprenorphine.

U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady alleges in court documents that the prescription “scheme” took place from August 2011 until May 2017.

“… Mamdouh El-Attrache did knowingly and willfully execute, and attempted to execute (the) scheme to defraud by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises, money and property owned by and under the custody and control of Medicare and Medicaid, and health care benefit programs with the payments for health care benefits and services,” the complaint states.

“It was part of the conspiracy that individuals would pay (El-Attrache) cash for office visits related to his unlawful distribution of controlled substances to said individuals. … proceeds would be provided to a co-conspirator at the end of each day, for eventual deposit by a co-conspirator into an account held in the name of Mamdouh F. El Attrache M.D.,” the eight-page complaint states.

A person who answered the telephone at El-Attrache’s office said they had “no comment.” El-Attrache did not have an attorney listed in court documents.

In the complaint, Brady notes that his office intends to pursue criminal forfeiture proceedings on two bank accounts controlled by El-Attrache — one an account at Scottdale Bank & Trust Company containing $614,498 — and a second Merrill Lynch account containing an unspecified balance. It also plans to seize his office and all contents.

El-Attrache is expected to plead guilty on Oct. 23 before Chief Judge Joy Flowers Conti, according to Brady’s office.

The state medical license board indicates that his license has been inactive since July, but does not list a reason.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.

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