Local pharmacist, 600 others charged in largest ever health care fraud operation

Crime Watch

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The following is a news release from the District of Idaho United States Attorney’s Office.

BOISE — Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex M. Azar III, announced Friday the largest ever health care fraud enforcement action involving 601 charged defendants across 58 federal districts, including 165 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in health care fraud schemes involving more than $2 billion in false billings.

Of those charged, 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics.

Thirty state Medicaid Fraud Control Units also participated in the arrests. In addition, HHS announced today that from July 2017 to the present, it has excluded 2,700 individuals from participation in Medicare, Medicaid, and all other Federal health care programs, which includes 587 providers excluded for conduct related to opioid diversion and abuse.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho Bart M. Davis announced the District of Idaho’s participation in the National Health Care Fraud Takedown. In the District of Idaho, three defendants, all of whom are medical professionals, were charged for their roles in three separate fraud schemes involving controlled substances.

Jennifer Fanopoulos, 40, of Meridian, Idaho, is a registered nurse who pleaded not guilty on June 26, 2018, to an indictment charging her with multiple counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud and identity theft. Fanopoulos’ trial is set for August 21, 2018, in front of Senior U.S. District Court Judge Edward J. Lodge at the federal courthouse in Boise.

Benjamin Hurley, 37, of Rigby, Idaho, is a pharmacist who pleaded not guilty on June 26, 2018, to an indictment charging him with two counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud. Hurley’s trial will be set for a later date in front of U.S. District Court Judge David C. Nye at the federal courthouse in Boise.

John Steiner, 35, of Lewiston, Idaho, is a pharmacist who is charged in an indictment with multiple counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud. Steiner is set to appear in court on July 3, 2018, before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald E. Bush at the federal courthouse in Coeur d’Alene.

The charge of obtaining controlled substances by fraud is punishable by up to four years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000 and one year of supervised release. The charge of identity theft is punishable by up to twenty years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and three years of supervised release.

These three cases were investigated by the Drug Enforcement Agency Tactical Diversion Squad. The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General also assisted with the investigation of Fanopoulos.

An indictment is a means of charging a person with criminal activity. It is not evidence. A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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