5 Western Pa. medical professionals indicted for fraud, illegal prescriptions
Five area medical professionals — four doctors and one operations manager — are accused as part of a nationwide effort in which 601 people were arrested for alleged participation in health care fraud schemes, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Scott. W. Brady.
Officials listed in a Thursday news release the local professionals who are facing federal court action in connection with the sweep:
•Dr. Peter James Ridella is accused of unlawfully prescribing oxycodone and Percocet, both opioid pain killers, and submitting false insurance claims. Authorities did not say where the alleged actions occurred. He was set to plead guilty Friday, according to a spokeswoman.
•Dr. Michael Cash is accused of unlawfully prescribing 32,000 doses of buprenorphine, a substance that can be used to treat opioid addictions, and submitting false insurance claims while working at SKS Associates Inc. in Johnstown.
•Dr. Ruth Jones is accused of unlawfully prescribing 22,382 doses of buprenorphine and submitting false insurance claims while working at SKS Associates Inc. She is set to plead guilty Friday, officials said.
•Christopher Handa pleaded guilty on Thursday for submitting unlawful prescriptions for 18,146 doses of buprenorphine and submitting false insurance claims while he was the operations manager at Redirections Treatment Advocates, a Suboxone clinic in Washington.
•Dr. Omar Almusa of Pittsburgh pleaded guilty Wednesday to unlawfully prescribing Vicodin, a pain reliever, and submitting false insurance claims. He was indicted in March. Authorities did not say where the alleged actions occurred.
His medical license, issued in 2003, was suspended three months ago, according to state records.
“These were trusted health care professionals,” said Chad Yarbrough, acting special agent in charge for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “They had an obligation to prescribe an appropriate amount of opioid medications and only what was necessary. Instead, they betrayed that trust and contributed to the growing opioid epidemic.”