The potentially serious nature of health care fraud charges was recently exemplified in a newly filed federal case alleging a prescription kickback scheme. Federal cases similar to this are becoming more prevalent across the country as the government takes aim at healthcare professionals in its effort to fight the opioid epidemic.
In a 16-count indictment, a Sarasota doctor and Tampa pharmaceutical sales rep are facing federal health care fraud charges for the alleged kickback scheme. Dr. Steven Chun, 57, and Daniel Tondre, 50, have been charged with health care fraud for paying and receiving kickbacks for prescribing fentanyl spray.
What the alleged kickback scheme entailed
Dr. Chun runs a pain management clinic and prescribed numerous doses of Subsys, an expensive form of liquid fentanyl. Patients can apply Subsys to the tongue for rapid pain relief. The charges accuse Chun of receiving speaking fees as a kickback for prescribing the drug. Tondre, who sold Subsys for Insys, is accused of arranging speaker programs with bogus attendees, such as friends and family members, and falsifying and forging attendee signatures to justify the speaking fees Chun received.
Chun allegedly received $275,000 in the illegal kickback scheme, and Tondre received sales commissions on the Subsys doses Chun prescribed.
The FBI and the Opioid Fraud Abuse and Detection Unit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office were two agencies that investigated the scheme. The investigation was part of the government’s crackdown on doctors overprescribing opioids, especially powerful painkillers like fentanyl.
The penalties for the charges
Both Chun and Tondre face five years in prison for health care fraud conspiracy and five years for each fraud count. They also face up to 10 years in prison for each kickback violation.
Any doctor, nurse or health care professional who is facing serious health care fraud charges should work with an experienced attorney who specializes in defending white-collar crime and complex cases. Those accused need someone who is familiar with negotiating plea deals and litigating in federal court. Having a strong legal advocate is the best way to preserve your freedom when facing serious federal charges involving health care fraud.