Chattanooga Tennessee Doctor pleaded guilty earlier this month to writing illegal prescriptions for Oxycodone, defrauding TennCare, and for attempting to evade taxes. Dr. Samuel Ashby admitted to writing prescriptions which were not withing the accepted standards of medical care. Accordingly, TennCare paid benefits for prescriptions which were not necessary, which was fraudulent.
As with many investigations involving pain clinics and pain management practices, the investigation was launched in response to complaints by citizens about the doctor operating a "pill mill." In response to those complaints, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service launched a joint investigation. One of their first steps was to execute a search warrant to obtain medical records from Dr. Ashby's office.
Dr. Ashby's sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 21, 2011. He faces faces a up to 20 years in prison for illegal distribution of a controlled substance; up to 10 years in prison for healthcare fraud; and up to five years in prison for the tax crimes.
As I have explained to clients in the medical field before, the Government treats doctors who write illegal prescriptions as drug dealers. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee Bill Killian echoes this position when he states in regards to Dr. Ashby's case:
This case demonstrates our office's commitment to addressing the ever-growing problem of prescription drug abuse. Increasingly we are finding unscrupulous healthcare professionals involved in illegally distributing drugs. When a doctor steps outside the bounds of professional practice and prescribes narcotics without medical justification, he or she becomes simply a drug dealer.
"Fayetteville Doctor Pleads Guilty," The Chattanoogan.com, November 3, 2010