Cardiologist Patel Arrested for Unlawful Distribution of Prescription Opioids and Fraud

Arrest warrant for Dr. Devendra I. Patel, aka Devendrakumar I. Patel, 58, of Elko

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Reno, Nevada – An Indian American cardiologist in Nevada was arrested this week and produced in a federal court, charged with healthcare fraud. On Wednesday Dec. 13, Dr. Devendra I. Patel, aka Devendrakumar I. Patel, 58, of Elko, was produced in a federal court in Reno city of Nevada. Patel was charged with 36- counts of unlawful distribution of controlled substances such as Oxycodone and Hydrocodone, in addition to three-counts of health care fraud.

“Despite his physician’s oath to do no harm, Dr. Patel recklessly prescribed opioids, for no legitimate medical purpose,” stated Aaron C. Rouse, Special Agent in Charge for the FBI’s Las Vegas office. “The FBI is confident that today’s arrest will send a message to other physicians that are prescribing opioids outside the scope of legitimate medical care. We are committed to using every tool in our arsenal to battle the opioid crisis in the state of Nevada,” Rouse added.

The 39-count indictment alleged that, from May 2014 to September 2017, Patel routinely prescribed Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, and Oxycodone for his patients without a legitimate medical purpose and that he fraudulently billed Medicare and Medicaid for medical tests that he did not perform. The indictment alleged that Patel performed EKGs on his patients, so he could then order nuclear stress tests which he did not administer. “He allegedly used a poorly calibrated machine and presented his patients with fraudulent X-Rays, in order to deceive his patients into thinking they had coronary issues that needed to be treated by him,” the court documents noted.

The US is reeling under an Opiod use crisis and the federal agencies are cracking down on the prescription, distribution and availability of those.

“Today we are facing the worst drug crisis in American history, with one American dying of a drug overdose every nine minutes,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Elaborating on the measures taken to control the crisis, Sessions said, “This summer, I ordered the creation of the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, which brings together data analysts and Assistant United States Attorneys from throughout the country to prosecute doctors engaged in opioid-related health care fraud. Additionally, I assigned a dozen of our top federal prosecutors to focus solely on this problem where the epidemic is at its worst. Prosecuting these cases help cut off the supply of drugs and stop addiction from spreading. These prosecutors are already delivering results, filing charges against doctors in Western Pennsylvania and Nevada. We will file many more charges in the months to come—because the Department of Justice will be relentless in hunting down drug dealers and turning the tide of this epidemic.”

Highlighting the situation prevailing in the country, DEA Special Agent in Charge Downing said, “Our Country is in the midst of a devastating opioid crisis and DEA is using every resource available to identify the traffickers and facilitators fueling addiction in our communities.” “Healthcare professionals who abuse the public’s trust and prescribe or dispense drugs purely for profit are drug dealers, and they’re going to be held accountable,” Downing added.

Acting US Attorney Myhre said, “The US Attorney’s Office is committed to turning the tide of the prescription opioid epidemic that is plaguing our communities. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute individuals who contribute to this scourge.”

Attorney Myhre added, “Dr. Patel is the first person to be charged in Nevada since the formation of the Justice Department’s Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit.” The Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit is a program that utilizes data to help combat the devastating opioid crisis.

“To combat this opioid epidemic, OIG will never hesitate to investigate health professionals more concerned with profits than patients,” said HHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Schrank, adding, “Inappropriately diagnosing patients and then prescribing medications is only compounded by the greed of sticking taxpayers with the bill.”

Patel is a cardiologist at his medical practice Northeastern Nevada Cardiology. The statutory maximum penalty for distribution of a controlled substance is 10 years in prison and the maximum penalty for health care fraud is 10 years in prison.

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