Morgantown doctor sentenced to probation and community service on federal drug charge

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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – A Monongalia County doctor was sentenced for a federal drug charge Monday. Chad Poage, 35 of Morgantown was sentenced to five years’ probation and ordered to complete 500 hours of community service for obtaining controlled substances by fraudulently writing prescriptions using colleagues’ DEA numbers and presenting stolen driver’s licenses to pick up fraudulently prescribed controlled substances from Morgantown area pharmacies for his personal use, announced officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Poage, pleaded guilty to one count of “Acquiring or Obtaining Possession of a Controlled Substance by Misrepresentation, Fraud, Forgery, Deception or Subterfuge” in May 2019, after being indicted in April.

Poage was an orthopedic surgeon at a practice with locations in Morgantown and Fairmont. As part of his guilty plea, he admitted that, from November 2015 to March 2018, he wrote 30 fraudulent prescriptions for a total of approximately 1,330 50-milligram tablets of Tramadol, 420 5-milligram tablets of Diazepam, and 50 30-milligram tablets of acetaminophen-codeine no. 3, all for his own use, according to a news release. Poage further admitted that on each of the 30 prescriptions, he either wrote colleagues’ DEA registration numbers without their authorization or wrote the prescription out to a patient knowing that he would pick up the prescribed medication for his own use, officials said. Poage admitted that on multiple occasions, he presented stolen driver’s licenses when picking up fraudulent prescriptions from pharmacies, according to the U.S Attorney’s Office.

U.S. Attorney Bill Powell

“Physicians who breach the trust given them often find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Professionals are not immune from the power of addiction. This case provides a sad but powerful commentary on the depth of our opioid crisis. We thank our partners in the Health Care Fraud Unit of the Department of Justice, along with our law enforcement partners for the important work being done in this district,” said U.S. Attorney Bill Powell.

The DEA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and West Virginia State Police investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid (ARPO) Strike Force.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office released the following details and statistics on the ARPO Strike Force: The ARPO is made up of prosecutors and data analysts with the Health Care Fraud Unit of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the region and special agents with the FBI, HHS-OIG and DEA. Since its inception in October 2018, the ARPO Strike Force has charged 60 defendants in 11 districts. The Health Care Fraud Unit, in general, maintains 14 strike forces operating in 23 districts, and has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Kleeh presided over the sentencing.

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