U.S. Attorney’s Office Announces Two Indictments of Healthcare Fraud Related Charges

July 01, 2024

U.S. Attorney Carlton S. Shier, IV has announced criminal charges against two separate defendants, in connection with alleged schemes to defraud Medicare and Medicaid, and to fraudulently prescribe controlled substances. The charges filed in federal court are part of the Justice Department’s 2024 National Health Care Fraud Enforcement Action. The charges stem from one scheme to cause claims for prescription drugs to be submitted, despite knowing the drugs were never dispensed to pharmacy customers, and another scheme to use the name and DEA registration number of another provider, without that provider’s knowledge, in order to issue prescriptions.

“When government healthcare programs are fraudulently deprived of critical resources and powerful drugs are illegally prescribed, it creates real damage,” said United States Attorney Shier. “It steals taxpayer money, and it enables the devastating cycle of drug abuse in fester in our communities. Simply having a professional license cannot be a shield from the consequences of this type of criminal conduct.”

“It does not matter if you are a trafficker in a drug cartel or a corporate executive or medical professional employed by a health care company, if you profit from the unlawful distribution of controlled substances, you will be held accountable,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The Justice Department will bring to justice criminals who defraud Americans, steal from taxpayer-funded programs, and put people in danger for the sake of profits.”

The charges announced today by U.S Attorney Shier are part of a strategically coordinated, two-week nationwide law enforcement action that resulted in criminal charges against 147 defendants for their alleged participation in health care fraud and opioid abuse schemes that resulted in the submission of over $2.5 billion in alleged false billings. The defendants allegedly defrauded programs entrusted for the care of the elderly and disabled to line their own pockets, and the government, in connection with the enforcement action, seized over $150 million in cash, luxury vehicles, gold, and other assets.

The Health Care Fraud Unit’s National Rapid Response, Florida, Gulf Coast, Los Angeles, Midwest, Northeast, and Texas Strike Forces; U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Southern District of Alabama, District of Arizona, Central District of California, Northern District of California, Southern District of California, District of Connecticut, Middle District of Florida, Southern District of Florida, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern District of Kentucky, Western District of Kentucky, Eastern District of Louisiana, Middle District of Louisiana, Western District of Louisiana, Eastern District of Michigan, Western District of Michigan, Southern District of Mississippi, District of Montana, District of New Jersey, Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, Eastern District of North Carolina, Western District of Oklahoma, District of Rhode Island, Middle District of Tennessee, Northern District of Texas, Southern District of Texas, Eastern District of Tennessee, Eastern District of Virginia, and Southern District of West Virginia; and the State Attorney Generals’ Offices for California, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, and South Dakota are prosecuting the cases in the National Enforcement Action, with assistance from the Health Care Fraud Unit’s Data Analytics Team. Descriptions of each case involved in today’s enforcement action are available on the Department’s website.

The Eastern District of Kentucky worked with the following law enforcement organizations to investigate and prosecute the cases filed during the enforcement period: the DEA; the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG); the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Office of Inspector General, Drug Enforcement and Professional Practices Branch; the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy; and the IRS.

The following individuals have been charged in the Eastern District of Kentucky:

Stephanie Collins, 57, of Corbin, Kentucky, was charged by information with health care fraud in connection with a scheme to bill Medicare and Medicaid for prescription drugs that were never dispensed by her pharmacy. As alleged, between January 2014 and June 2020, Collins, the owner of Stephanie’s Down Home Pharmacy, knowingly and willfully caused claims for prescription drugs to be submitted to those health care programs despite knowing that the drugs at issue were never dispensed to pharmacy customers, and obtained approximately $730,000 as a result of the scheme. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andy Smith.

Don V. Bryson, 69, of Oil Springs, Kentucky, was charged by information with a conspiracy to unlawfully distribute controlled substances by using the name and DEA registration number of another physician. As alleged, Bryson was a physician who had surrendered his medical license following a Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure investigation into his prescribing practices. Bryson continued to work as a “medical consultant” at a clinic in Paintsville, Kentucky owned by a co-conspirator, which utilized locum tenens providers to issue controlled substance prescriptions. In September 2021, Bryson agreed with the clinic owner to use the name and DEA registration number of a locum tenens provider no longer affiliated with the clinic, without that provider’s knowledge, in order to issue approximately 79 hydrocodone prescriptions, totaling approximately 6,915 hydrocodone pills. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andy Smith.