US: Ex-Doctor Sentenced to 11 Years for Fraud, Operating Pill Mill

A former doctor has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for a string of frauds, money laundering, and illegal prescription-writing,  according to a Justice Department release last week. 

Prescription drug abuse and pill mills that support it are ongoing issues in the US. (Photo: US Air Force)Prescription drug abuse and pill mills that support it are ongoing issues in the US. (Photo: US Air Force)Authorities said Paul Michael Hoover ran a pill mill — a place where doctors hand out prescriptions for powerful drugs (usually painkillers) whether a patient needs them or not, and generally in exchange for under-the-table payments. According to authorities, Hoover spent years operating one along with co-defendant Marci Ramsier Arthurs, who also faces charges.  

The release states that Hoover traveled about every three months from California to Coraopolis, PA, where for a few days he would write illegitimate oxycodone prescriptions for cash. Back in California, he’d receive money orders from people in the Pittsburgh-area seeking oxycodone prescriptions. He would then mail prescriptions to them. 

Information presented to the court stated that Hoover submitted forms to Medicare and Medicaid health plans, which paid for the illegitimate prescriptions. To top it off, the court says that Hoover spent about six years falsely collecting disability payments. 

In addition to jail time, Hoover has been ordered to pay back Medicare, Medicaid, and the Social Security Administration nearly $407,0000 and to forfeit assets totaling about $1.2 million in US currency, precious metals, and property.

An Associated Press report from July discussed the role of pill mills in Florida in the ongoing opioid crisis in the United States. The topic is gaining traction among Democratic candidates for president as well. President Trump declared the opioid crisis a health emergency  in 2017. Meanwhile, the Justice Department’s website continues to fill with reports of pill mill-related fraud and prescription drug trafficking.