Three Sentenced for Medicare Fraud and Controlled Substances

Mike Seals - February 4, 2021 11:16 pm

OKLAHOMA MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS SENTENCED FOR UNLAWFUL DISTRIBUTION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES AND MEDICARE HEALTH CARE FRAUD

Also Ordered to Pay More than $73,000 in Medicare Restitution

OKLAHOMA CITY – Over the past week, DR. JAMES FERRIS, 47, of Midwest City, KATHERINE DOSSEY, 61, of Luther, and SHERRY ISBELL, 50, of Chandler, were sentenced for their respective roles in the unlawful distribution of controlled substances and corresponding health care fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Downing. 

On June 20, 2018, a federal grand jury returned a 103-count Indictment charging Ferris, Dossey and Isbell with crimes related to the distribution of controlled prescription drugs using invalid medical prescriptions and the subsequent fraudulent billings of Medicare for those prescriptions.  According to the Indictment, Isbell was the owner of Physicians at Home and the Mid-Oklahoma Medical Access Clinic, both located in Wellston, Oklahoma.  Ferris was a physician employed by Physicians at Home.  Dossey was a licensed pharmacist who owned a retail pharmacy located in the same building as the clinic.  

From September 2015 through December 2015, Isbell, Dossey and Ferris allegedly conspired to dispense prescription controlled substances, including opioids such as hydrocodone, morphine, and fentanyl.  In furtherance of the conspiracy, Ferris provided Dossey with stacks of pre-signed, blank prescription pads.  Isbell provided Dossey with access to patient records, allowing Dossey to prepare invalid prescription refills utilizing the pre-signed prescription pads.

The Indictment further alleged that Isbell, Dossey and Ferris conspired to commit health care fraud in connection with these pre-signed prescriptions.  Due to the unlawful nature of the prescriptions, any claim for reimbursement to Medicare was a false claim for payment.

On January 26, 2021, Ferris pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of fentanyl without a valid prescription and one count of health care fraud.  In the same court proceeding, Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGuisti sentenced Ferris to 42 months’ probation.  Pursuant to the terms of his plea agreement, Ferris agreed to surrender his license to practice medicine in Oklahoma and would not apply for a medical license in Oklahoma for a period of three years from the date of surrender.

On November 27, 2019, Dossey pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud.  On January 27, 2021, Judge DeGuisti sentenced Dossey to 54 months’ probation.  Pursuant to the terms of her plea agreement, Dossey agreed to surrender her Oklahoma pharmacy license and further agreed that she would never reapply for that license.

On July 30, 2019, Isbell pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud.  On February 3, 2021, Judge DeGuisti sentenced Isbell to 24 months’ probation.

Judge DeGuisti additionally ordered Ferris, Dossey and Isbell to pay restitution to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the amount of $53,468.74, as well as to the Oklahoma Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in the amount of $20,301.51.  This restitution was ordered to be paid jointly and severally among the defendants, representing the monetary amount Medicare unknowingly reimbursed for the unlawful prescriptions. 

“The tragic consequences of opioid abuse are an ongoing problem in our Oklahoma communities,” said U.S. Attorney Downing.  “These criminal convictions send a clear message that those given the power to prescribe controlled substances will be held to high standards of ethical and professional behavior in accordance with the law.”

This prosecution was the product of a multi-year investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Oklahoma City Field Division, and the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the Inspector General.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Snyder prosecuted the case.

 

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