Milton Physician Pleads Guilty to Illegally Prescribing Drug Used to Treat Opiate Addiction
Sentenced to Six Months Home Confinement; Ordered to Pay Fines and Restitution
BOSTON – The former head of a substance abuse clinic in Brighton pleaded guilty to charges that he illegally prescribed a drug used to treat opiate addiction and collected illegal fees from patients, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
Dr. Richard Ng, 54, of Milton, pleaded guilty today in Suffolk Superior Court on charges of Illegal Prescribing (11 counts), Medicaid False Claims (9 counts), and Medicaid Excess Charges (7 counts). After the pleas were entered, Superior Court Judge Frances McIntyre sentenced Ng to two and a half years in the House of Correction, suspended for a probationary period of five years, with six months of home confinement on GPS monitoring as a special condition.
Judge McIntyre also imposed a $10,000 fine and ordered Ng to pay restitution of approximately $9,700. The charges stemmed from Ng’s management of the substance abuse treatment clinic between 2006 and 2008. The clinic later closed in early 2009.
“Proper and responsible treatment is critical to ending drug addiction for so many people seeking help,” AG Coakley said. “Patients place trust in their physicians when seeking help and this doctor abused that trust by charging illegal fees and writing prescriptions for no legitimate medical purpose. Our office will continue to aggressively fight against illegal prescribing.”
The AG’s investigation revealed that Ng prescribed the drug Suboxone, a semi-synthetic drug used to treat opiate addition, to nine of his patients even after repeated drug tests indicated that the patients were not taking Suboxone and were continuing to use illegal street drugs, including heroin, methadone and other opiates. For many of these patients, Ng wrote medical notes falsely stating that the patients had therapeutic levels of Suboxone in their system, had not deviated from their treatment, or had been tolerating their Suboxone treatment without difficulty. Ng also wrote prescriptions in false names for two additional patients. Most of the prescriptions at issue were billed to and paid for by the Massachusetts Medicaid Program (MassHealth).
The investigation also revealed that Ng unlawfully charged his MassHealth patients, including those insured by MassHealth, a $100 “new patient registration fee” via cash or check made out directly to him that was placed into his personal account. The new patient fee was in addition to payment Ng received from MassHealth for his services, which is prohibited by MassHealth regulations.
In February, Ng’s former office manager, Renee Andrews, 44, of Hudson, NH, pleaded guilty to charges of Medicaid Kickbacks (4 counts), Medicaid False Claims (2 counts), and Private Health Insurance Kickbacks (5 counts). The charges stemmed from a scheme in which Andrews solicited and, in some cases received, kickbacks from drug testing laboratories in exchange for referring the clinic’s lucrative urine drug screening business to the laboratories. In exchange for Andrews’ referring the clinic’s business, the laboratories paid the full-time salaries of clinic staff, including Andrews’ daughter and cousin, who worked as medical assistants and performed other administrative duties. Suffolk Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke sentenced Andrews to two years of probation, and ordered her to pay a $7,500 fine.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney Generals Joshua Orr, Brendan O’Shea, Angela Neal, and Deputy Division Chief Steven Hoffman, all of Attorney General Coakley’s Medicaid Fraud Division. The case was investigated by Medicaid Fraud investigators Joseph Shea and Erica Schlain and members of the Massachusetts State Police Drug Diversion Unit. This case was referred to the AG’s Office by MassHealth, who also assisted in the investigation.
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