Ten people in the Western District of Kentucky have been charged with health care fraud in a national takedown that has resulted in charges against about 600 people.
U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman announced the charges at a press conference Thursday along with Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear and law enforcement personnel. Coleman said the takedown is one of the most significant in the history of the Justice Department.
“Health care fraud is theft,” Coleman said. “It’s drug dealing.”
Coleman said the charges include unlawful distribution of controlled substances, mail fraud and identity theft. The people charged worked in a variety of jobs across the medical field.
“These 10 individuals include a psychiatrist, a chiropractor, a general practitioner, a medical assistant, a number of individuals that work in and around medical practices and a couple of, as you’ll see, just flat out fraudsters,” Coleman said.
All 10 of the defendants have been indicted in the past month, according to the press release. They include Osmaro Ruiz, who is charged with running a fake pharmacy in Louisville and Dr. Peter Steiner, a local psychiatrist who was charged with drug trafficking.
During the press conference, Beshear said the opioid epidemic is Kentucky’s biggest challenge right now.
“Our opioid epidemic, our drug epidemic here in Kentucky is the challenge of our times. It kills four Kentuckians every single day, our friends, our family members, our neighbors, people that we love and care about,” Beshear said.
Beshear said the takedown was a joint effort between the Louisville Metro Police Department, the Kentucky State Police, the Barren River Drug Task Force and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, as well as several other state and federal organizations.
Coleman said local law enforcement agencies have also carried out multiple search warrants in the past four weeks to investigate more alleged health care fraud and opiate distribution offenses. The locations searched included a pediatrician’s office, four pain clinics, an oncologist’s practice and two residences. Most of the searches were carried out in Louisville.