Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Seattle doctor settles allegations he improperly wrote controlled substance prescriptions

 Violated False Claims Act by billing Medicare

Seattle – Dr. Gerald Lee, a Seattle physician, has agreed to pay $150,000 to resolve allegations that he violated the Controlled Substances Act and False Claims Act, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman.  Specifically, the United States alleges that from January 2016 to September 2017, Dr. Lee violated the Controlled Substances Act by writing 23 prescriptions for controlled substances, primarily opioids and benzodiazepines, outside the usual course of his professional practice, to a patient with whom he was having a sexual relationship.  The United States also alleges that Dr. Lee violated the False Claims Act by causing claims for the patient’s treatment and prescriptions to be submitted to Medicare.  

In addition to agreeing to pay the $150,000 settlement, Dr. Lee has also agreed not to reapply for a controlled substances registration with the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) for a period of two years.  Without the DEA registration, Dr. Lee will not be able to prescribe controlled substances during this time. 

“Submission of false Medicare claims is an attempt to pilfer taxpayer money meant to serve community members needing health-sustaining services,” said Steven Ryan, Special Agent in Charge with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Our agency and partners are unwaveringly dedicated to pursing and holding accountable providers who place their self-interests above the law.”

“We are charged with protecting our citizens and keeping our communities safe,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino.  “This investigation demonstrates the need for strict accountability of the rogue healthcare programs and professionals who abuse their position for profit by exploiting the patients and programs our law-abiding public deserves.  This cooperative and coordinated law enforcement operation exemplifies the DEA’s relentless commitment to safeguarding the safety of patients and the reliability of the health care industry.”

In the settlement agreement, Dr. Lee does not admit any wrongdoing or liability, and the government maintains that its allegations are well founded. 

The case was investigated by the DEA and HHS and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Burns handled the matter for the United States Attorney’s Office. 

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