10/29/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/29/2019 16:28
PITTSBURGH - A former Pennsylvania-licensed physician has been sentenced in federal court to a total of 11 years and four months (136 months) in prison on his conviction for conspiracy to illegally distribute oxycodone, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and Social Security fraud, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
On October 28, 2019, Chief Judge Mark R. Hornak imposed the sentence on Paul Michael Hoover, age 59, formerly of Novato, California. Judge Hornak further ordered Hoover to pay restitution to Medicare, Medicaid, and the Social Security Administration totaling $406,760.75, and to forfeit assets totaling approximately $1.2 million in U.S. currency, gold, silver, and real property.
'We are attacking the opioid crisis from every direction and with every tool that we have,' said U.S. Attorney Brady. 'The message sent by this sentence should be loud and clear: drug dealers will face the justice and do the time they deserve - in the case of Dr. Hoover, the next 11 years.'
According to information presented to the court, from March 26, 2015 to June 22, 2018, in the Western District of Pennsylvania and elsewhere, Hoover and his co-defendant conspired to illegally distribute oxycodone, commit health care fraud, and launder drug proceeds. Approximately every three months, Hoover and his co-defendant traveled from California to operate a pill mill in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania for one or two days, during which time, Hoover wrote individuals illegitimate oxycodone prescriptions for cash. While back in California, Hoover received money orders for oxycodone prescriptions from individuals residing in the Pittsburgh area, and after receiving payment, mailed the illegitimate prescriptions to the individuals. Hoover also conspired with his co-defendant to commit health care fraud by signing preauthorization forms and submitting the forms to Medicare and Medicaid health plans, which then paid for the cost of the illegitimate prescriptions. Hoover further conspired with his co-defendant to launder the proceeds from their drug distribution operation. Finally, from approximately May 2012 to August 2018, Hoover falsely represented to the Social Security Administration that he was unable to work and was not working due to his disability when in reality, Hoover could have worked as a legitimate physician. Instead, Hoover falsely represented that he was incapable of working, collected Social Security benefits, and then used his status as a physician to earn money by illegally prescribing oxycodone.
'Dr. Hoover was once a trusted physician who took an oath to care for patients and provide them with proper medical care,' said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones. 'At some point during his career, greed took over. The FBI will not allow these doctors to peddle opioids for profit. That makes them drug dealers and we will use all our resources to put them out of business and in jail.'
'Dr. Hoover was a criminal in a lab coat who contributed to the drug problem in the Pittsburgh area,' said Paris S. Pratt, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) Pittsburgh District Office. 'Doctors that seek to betray their professional oath and engage in this type of illegal activity will be subject to both criminal charges and significant civil penalties.'
'Physicians should be part of the solution to the opioid crisis, not part of the problem,' said Special Agent in Charge Maureen R. Dixon of HHS-OIG. 'We will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners to bring criminals -- including corrupt physicians -- to justice.'
'IRS-Criminal Investigation is committed to lending our financial expertise and working with our law enforcement partners to help put an end to the opioid epidemic,' said Guy Ficco, Special Agent in Charge of IRS-Criminal Investigation. 'The sentencing of Dr. Hoover will hopefully be a deterrent to any other practitioners who may be considering carrying out similar conduct.'
'The defendant abused his position as a doctor to pump dangerous opioids into our communities and defraud our health care and social security systems,' said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. 'I'm proud to have assisted our law enforcement partners in putting an end to this scheme and ensuring that he spends significant time behind bars for his crimes.'
The case against co-defendant Marci Ramsier Arthurs is pending.
Assistant United States Attorneys Cindy K. Chung and Rachael L. Mamula prosecuted this case on behalf of the United States.
U.S. Attorney Brady commended the work by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Bureau of Narcotics, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, U.S. Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General, which conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Hoover.
The investigation leading to the filing of charges in these cases were conducted by the Western Pennsylvania Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, which combines personnel and resources from the following agencies to combat the growing prescription opioid epidemic: Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Attorney's Office - Criminal Division, Civil Division, and Asset Forfeiture Unit, Department of Veterans Affairs - Office of Inspector General, Food and Drug Administration - Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Licensing.