Bridgeville clinic operator pleads guilty to prescription drug scheme |

Bridgeville clinic operator pleads guilty to prescription drug scheme

Suboxone, which reduces the withdrawal symptoms experienced by thos battling addiction to heroin and other opiates, comes in tablet form and as a thin film strip that dissolves under the tongue. It is not addictive, and patients can’t overdose on it.

The operator of a drug addiction treatment clinic in Pittsburgh’s South Hills pleaded guilty to unlawfully distributing controlled substances and committing health care fraud, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Terri C. Brown, 53, of Boswell — former owner of the Cherry Way Suboxone clinic in Bridgeville — was convicted on five counts of drug and health care fraud charges, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said.

Brown conspired in the fraudulent prescription drug scheme with co-defendant Dr. Mark Foster, the former medical director at Cherry Way, prosecutors said.

The pair unlawfully wrote prescriptions for and dispensed Adderall, Percocet and Suboxone, which can reduce the withdrawal symptoms experienced by those battling addiction to heroin and other opiates.

Brown then committed health care fraud by submitting fraudulent claims for the drugs to Highmark and Medicaid, prosecutors said.

Brown could face a maximum sentence of up to 80 years in prison, a $4 million fine or both for the unlawful distribution of substances. Brown faces up to another 10 years and $250,000 fine for health care fraud.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert S. Cessar prosecuted the case with help from the Western Pennsylvania Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, a multi-agency effort to combat the prescription opioid epidemic.

Agencies that assisted in the investigation included: the FBI, U.S. Health and Human, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Department of Veterans Affairs, Food and Drug Administration, Pennsylvania Bureau of Licensing and the state Attorney General’s office.

U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer scheduled a sentencing for Brown on Feb. 8.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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