PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The owner of an opioid addiction treatment practice, with offices in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia, pleaded guilty in federal court to illegal distribution and health care fraud.
Jennifer Hess, 50, of Washington, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to charges of aiding and abetting the unlawful distribution of controlled substances and health care fraud, according to the United States Attorney’s Office. Hess pleaded guilty to three total counts.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Hess founded and owned Redirections Treatment Advocates LLC (RTA), an opioid treatment practice with offices in Washington and Bridgeville, Pennsylvania and Morgantown, Weirton and Moundsville, West Virginia. Hess aided and abetted the illegal distribution of buprenorphine, also known as Subutex and Suboxone, by completing blank pre-signed prescriptions and/or forging doctors’ names on blank prescriptions. Hess also committed health care fraud for causing fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicaid and Medicare for payments to cover the costs of the unlawfully prescribed buprenorphine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
A judge scheduled sentencing for October 30, 2019 at 10 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 30 years in prison, a fine of $1.25 million, or both.
The investigation leading to the filing of charges in these cases was conducted by the Western Pennsylvania Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit. The Western Pennsylvania OFADU, led by federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, combines the expertise and resources of federal and state law enforcement to address the role played by unethical medical professionals in the opioid epidemic. This unit has investigated and prosecuted more corrupt health care professionals than any other U.S. Attorney’s Office in the country.
The agencies which comprise the Western Pennsylvania OFADU include: 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; Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General – Bureau of Narcotic Investigations; United States 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; U.S. Office of Personnel Management – Office of Inspector General; and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Licensing.