Massachusetts Physician Arraigned in Connection with Illegally Prescribing Suboxone
Doctor Allegedly Charged Illegal Patient Fees; Former Office Manager Also Arraigned for Conducting Medicaid Kickback Scheme with Clinical Laboratories
BOSTON – The former director of a drug abuse clinic in Brighton has been arraigned in connection with illegally prescribing a drug used to treat opiate addiction and collecting illegal fees from patients, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today. The clinic’s former office manager was also arraigned today for conducting an elaborate Medicaid kickback scheme worth more than $590,000.
Dr. Richard Ng, 54, of Milton, who ran the clinic between 2006 and 2008, was arraigned today in Suffolk Superior Court on charges of Illegal Prescribing (11 counts), Medicaid False Claims (9 counts), and Medicaid Excess Charges (7 counts). At the arraignment, Ng pleaded not guilty to all charges before Clerk Magistrate Gary Wilson and was released on personal recognizance with the condition that he surrender his passport.
Ng’s former office manager, Renee Andrews, 43, of Hudson, NH, was arraigned on charges of Medicaid Kickbacks (4 counts), Medicaid False Claims (2 counts), and Private Health Insurance Kickbacks (5 counts). Andrews pleaded not guilty before Clerk Magistrate Gary Wilson to all charges and was released on personal recognizance with the condition that she surrender her passport.
The AG’s Office alleges that Ng grew the clinic until he was treating more patients than legally permitted, and boosted his annual earnings to more than $575,000 in salary and bonuses. In order to maintain his large practice, Ng allegedly knowingly prescribed Suboxone, a drug used to treat opiate addiction, to nine of his patients that according to their urine drug screens were not taking the drug and continued to use illegal street drugs, including Heroin, Methadone and other opiates.
Ng allegedly wrote Suboxone prescriptions in false patient names when two of his patients lost their insurance. Ng also unlawfully charged Massachusetts Medicaid Program (MassHealth) patients a $100 “new patient registration fee,” via cash or check made out to him directly. This fee was in addition to receiving payment from MassHealth for all services rendered and is prohibited by MassHealth regulations and statutes.
The AG’s Office alleges that Andrews offered and entered into Medicaid kickback arrangements with two laboratories including Franey Medical Lab, Inc. in Hyannis and East Side Clinical Laboratory in East Providence, Rhode Island.
In exchange for Ng’s significant urine drug screening business, the laboratories paid the salaries of some of Ng’s office staff, including the full-time salaries of Andrews’ daughter, nephew and boyfriend, who also worked as medical assistants and performed other administrative duties. The drug screens resulting from the kickbacks were worth more than $590,000 and were paid for by MassHealth, as well as Medicare and private insurances.
A Suffolk Grand Jury returned indictments against both Ng and Andrews, along with two other defendants, last month as the result of an industry-wide independent clinical laboratory investigation conducted by Attorney General Coakley’s Medicaid Fraud Division. Ng and Andrews are due back in court on May 30 for a pretrial conference.
Franey Medical Lab was charged with Medicaid Kickbacks (1 count), one count of Medicaid False Claims (1 count), and Private Health Insurance kickbacks (3 counts), and is scheduled to be arraigned on April 16.
Kathleen Franey-Lopes, 35, of Marstons Mills, was charged with one count of Medicaid Kickbacks (1 count), Medicaid False Claims (1 count), and Private Health Insurance Kickbacks (3 counts). Franey, the daughter of the lab’s owner, was the primary contact with Ng’s office between March 2007 and March 2008. She is scheduled to be arraigned on April 16.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney Generals Toby Unger and Angela Neal, of Attorney General Coakley’s Medicaid Fraud Division, and Deputy Chief of the Medicaid Fraud Division Steven Hoffman. The case was investigated by investigators Joseph Shea and Erica Schlain. This case was referred to the AG’s Office by MassHealth, who also assisted in the investigation.